Day 67: Amsterdam and London (city of opportunity)

Once again, it’s been AGES since I have updated the blog. Mainly cause I’ve been in London looking for a job and a place to live and it really hasn’t been that interesting… Well, that’s not entirely true. In the video, I talk about the crazy housemates I nearly had (i.e.: a nudist and a recently separated desperado).

However before I came to London I was in Amsterdam! Now, people always talk about how Amsterdam smells of weed and has prostitutes in windows selling their vaginas (ok, it’s more than just that), and you think “yeah, ok – sure” – but you really have to experience it to believe it. However – it’s not really TRUE Amsterdam, cause the “coffee shops” are just full of tourists, and the red light district is lined with horny teenagers and older men after a perve. The locals have their own dealer (or grow their own – but that’s too much effort), and get sex like the rest of us. Oh – and the Dutch are VERY tall and built. (damn, now I want to go back there…)

When I was in the Netherlands though, I was staying with my friend Kimberley, who lived half an hour out of A’dam in a “city” called Almere. Now – this city is the future, I tell you. It is only 30ish years old, and was built cause there were too many people to live in Amsterdam. Not only that, but it is 4 metres under sea level and was only able to be built cause they built a big dyke and drained the sea in the area. There are roads especially for bikes, and they take priority of cars – CARS HAVE TO STOP FOR BIKES! Oh – and busses have their own roads as well, so they NEVER get stuck in any traffic and run on time! It’s amazing.

We also celebrated Sinterklaas – which is the Netherlands Christmas celebration. Now put simply (and Kimberley can – will – probably correct me here), Sinterklaas arrived at the end of November from Spain (what the what?!) with his “helpers” (who are not paid, from my knowledge – make your own assumptions) and I’m pretty sure he brings gifts. He is NOT Santa – however, it is believed Sinterklaas is one of the origins of Mr Claus.

During this time (and the time I was in The Netherlands) Sinterklaas and his helpers were all over the TV. I think he had a missing toy that everyone had to look for… Oh – and yes – the helpers were in blackface. Lucky Harry Connick Jr wasn’t in town.

Sinterklaas and his

Anyway – I’m in London now. I’ve had an amazing time here so far, which has been great. I’m feeling really positive about being here, and I really think I can make something of this city. I’m pretty exited. I’m going to Edinburgh for New Years which will be awesome cause a lot of the friends I made along my travels are going to be there as well. It’s gonna be brill!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

xx

A chocolate stand in A'dam. Look closely.

I love swans. Even in the Red Light District

Says it all, right?

Merry Christmas from London!

Oxford Street on Boxing Day

Day 44: OMG: Paris! and Bitch, Please…(!)

Here’s another item to put next to “James is a mega gay stereotype”I LOVE PARIS! I know everyone talks about how amazing Paris is, and yeah – it pretty much is one of the best places on earth (so far, that I’ve seen). Which is why it’s taken me so long to do another blog! There is so much to do here, and every moment I’ve been here I’ve wanted to be out in the thick of it.

To top it off, I made a friend with an AWESOME woman/girl, Katie, and we spent the week together doing Paris shit. The hostel we’re in is pretty commercial, and full of incredibly annoying people, so we got along just fine paying it out and avoiding crazies. We dominated karaoke night (however, I think I better stick to singing love songs to lovers (re: Warsaw)… :S We walked into a room later in the week, and someone greeted us with “Oh, you’re the karaoke guys!”), ate snails (delish!), and checked out some of the fantastically hilarious porn titles (e.g.: “My hole is ready” - how original) in the “adult Disneyland” around the Moulin Rouge.

One of my friends from home, Claire, has brought to my attention on many occasions that I have this amazing ability to turn people around me into mega bitches (in the nicest possible way) after spending a few hours with me. I’m proud of that. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and only the strongest survive! Plus, it goes well with my stereotype list. Reason why I’m bringing this up, is it kinda happened to Katie, and another one of my new friends, Mab. As I told them, “life is too short to be hanging around annoying people”. Take that home.

People in the annoying list:
Tennessee: a mid-30s divorcee who was camper than Christmas (and not gay). Thought his job in a call centre was important enough to tell us all about his “senior position”, and what gifts he bought every one of his staff.
Maple Leaf: a 20 year old guy from the States, who has lived in York, UK for 3 years and has a strong Irish accent (wtf). Likes doing party tricks. Also has many ridiculous tattoos. One is a maple leaf
Texas: a 19 year old who told too many stories of her weird fucked up family (rapist uncle was one, I think), and cut her 3 week trip short to meet some guy in Texas she met on the internet. Also wanted to sell her virginity on the internet. Also missed the Maccas at home.

… but I digress…

The Eiffel Tower is just breathtaking. I saw it at dusk yesterday, and decided to do the video blog from there. I blab a little bit in the blog, but whatever.

The food here is incredible! Katie and I had the most AMAZING meal in Hôtel-de-Ville called Café Hugo. Then last night, a few of us had a super cheap meal in the Latin Quarter. Three course meal for 10 euros! HOWEVER! On my last night in Lyon, Mab and I had this ridiculously shitty meal at this place that seemed ALWAYS BUSY!!! So – we thought it MUST have been good. We were wrong. Check out exhibit A below. Also, the woman prepping the desserts had scabs all on her hands. We skipped dessert. Oh – we also didn’t pay for the shitty salad, and bolted out of the restaurant. Yeah – living life dangerously!

I’m going to Amsterdam today, and am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces. Then London on Sunday.

I don’t know how much more I can say here… so here’s the video:

I'd BETTER have a boy to kiss under this the next time I'm here... Just sayin'!

Anyone for a skip through the park?

So, it was only sunny for ONE day...

"It's beginning to look a lot like..." in Galeries Lafayette

Shower at the gay club. He dances. In the shower...

I'm not stoned..

Me: "Oh - it looks heaps bigger!" Tour guide: "That's what he said..."

Day 38: Fun in Nice et When CouchSurfing Turns Sour

Greetings from Lyon in the east of France. I love France, and I’m lucky that I haven’t come across the arrogant awful French people like the boy I came across in Budapest. But apparently they all live in Paris, and I haven’t been there yet. I’d like to think it’s my “school boy French” that is working it’s charm. (and when I mean “school boy French”, I mean, I can order things, and ask how people are, but when they start talking back – THAT’S when I get in trouble… haha)

I had SUCH a wonderful time in Nice. Not only is it beautiful (and reminded me of Batemans Bay – where I grew up), I was there at the most perfect time of year. It wasn’t too hot, and there weren’t too many tourists – PERFECT! I spent most of the time eating and laying in on the beach (in the late arvo so I don’t get sunburnt ;) ) and drinking wine.

On top of that, I met some wonderful people! All of which were traveling alone – so it was perfect. Gen (a girl from Sydney) took some amazing pics, but I don’t have them yet – so we’re just gonna have to put up with mine for the moment. It was great to just chill out and relax with the same people for a few days, drink wine, and shoot the breeze.

Oh! I also met a lovely CouchSurfing guy on my last day in Nice, who took me to a couple of secret places. One place at a hidden beach, and the other this very cute, hidden Italian restaurant for lunch.

View from secret place

In the video, I talk about my shitty CouchSurfing experience from yesterday, and my low tolerance for obnoxious, bogan Australian tourists. So – sorry, but the video is a bit of a whinge-fest today. I’m putting my whinging and low tolerance down to the fact I haven’t had sex in weeks. (partly cause I’ve got my mind elsewhere, and partly cause I can’t be bothered…) Is it just me, or is that how a normal person operates??

Anyway, that’s enough of that. My Parents and Aunties read this…

Love to all xx

Nice

My Dad would like this photo cause of the boats...

Sunset in Nice

Day 34: Riding on Bikes with Boys, and Crazy Italians

I apologise in the video for my delayed blog, but I’ll do it again here. SORRY! It’s been a week since my last post, and I’ve been in three countries! I am in Nice now, and you’ll be able to tell from my video – it’s quite nice (pun-tastic). (I also started this blog two days ago, but I have been busy in Nice with new friends, SUNSHINE, and walking around in thongs). I talk about my Italian experiences in the video, and the below is about Zurich and Switzerland.

I LOVE IT! Zurich (I explain why I ended up going to Zurich instead of Venice and Verona in the video) is so smart and modern – I would totally work there. The only thing is, it’s SO damn expensive, and even the locals cross the border to Germany to do their grocery shopping. Insane. I stayed one night in a hostel, and had a heart attack at the price – 50 FRANCS! (nearly equal to the AUD). And that was for one night. I hit CouchSurfing to see if there was somewhere I could crash the second night, because that was just WAY out of my budget.

I found a lovely guy who lived with his uni mates named Jonas, who allowed me to crash at VERY short notice. Oh – I’ve learnt how to search for gay people on CouchSurfing to avoid the awkward coming out thing, and not knowing how people react to gays – which can be quite nerve wracking – but I though a bunch of uni boys would be fine with a gay. And they were – they were lovely.

Jonas took me on his Vesper to a look out over Zurich, which was nice. Now – this will be embarrassing if he reads this (I don’t think he will), but I always find it awkward how to ride on the back of a bike with a straighty. Like, how close do I sit? Do I hold on to him? If so, how tight? What if when we stop, I slide really close to him? Do I move away? WHAT IF I GET A SEMI?! These were all the things going through my mind (ok, exaggeration), when riding with Jonas (who was cute as well).

Anyway – I’m glad to report, none of those things happened, and everything worked out fine.

Prague

Now – the boys were very accommodating, and my brother was very proud of me and the activities I participated in. We drank beer, played some soccer game on the PS3 (what the fuck is that offside rule!?), watched random YouTube videos, and Family Guy. HOWEVER – things did get a little interesting when they were giving me an induction to Rammstein (I know who they are, but never watched any video clips)… They showed me this one. Watch at your own risk, but I couldn’t help but think that they were only showing it to me for my own benefit… Thoughts? THEN during Family Guy, we were making our way though a season, and when I got back from the bathroom, realised they’d skipped a few episodes to the Family Gay episode, where Peter is injected with the “gay gene”. Also, for my benefit? PS – it feels like EVERY TIME I find myself with that episode, I’m with a bunch of straight boys (who don’t know when to laugh and when NOT to laugh in case they offend me… HILARIOUS). It happens to be one of my favourite episodes, so at least I enjoyed it…

Anyway – to round off Switzerland: love the Alps, love the men, love the chocolate. I also fell in love with this town on the way to Italy – Lugano. I plan on having a holiday house there one day.

Lugano - so pretty!

Can you imagine how cold he is?

This is outside the Millan Stock Exchange. Irony considering where Italy's financial position is...

The Italian Prime Minister's Son (in a gossip magazine)...

Flamingos in the garden where rich people live

Day 26: Climbing Ev’ry Mountain…

I’m gonna find it REALLY hard not to talk about Salzburg right now, cause I’ve told myself this blog needs to be about Budapest. It’s SO pretty here, and today I did the Sound of Music tour.

Oh – fuck it. I’m adding the Sound of Music to this blog. THE TOUR WAS SO MUCH FUN! Ok, probably don’t need all caps on that. The hostel I’m staying in is really cute, and they play the movie every day at 1030am (and once at night if someone puts it on – and they do). Anyway – the tour was camp and fun. Naomi (the tour guide) asked if I was a fan: I told her it was “gay law for me to be a fan”… from there, things just got better. Cue jokes about Rolfe being a babe, but “the really good looking ones are never any good”, jokes about Gretl putting on weight during the filming (WHICH HAPPENS TO BE TRUE cause she was a little shit to deal with, and they had to give her cake all the time as bribery to do what they want. I would have sacked the little diva), and then finally (why did I write finally?! Like I was expecting it!?) being offered job as a tour guide at the end of the trip. CAN YOU IMAGINE!?

Here are a selection of pictures from the tour.

"Climb Ev'ry Mountain......!"

I'M GOING ON 17! LET ME IN GOD DAMNIT!

There's a hotel on the top of that mountain...

Left at Maria's alter...

Meanwhile, it was Independence Day in Poland last Friday. Now, you might be thinking “oh, good on Poland and their Independence Day and their parades to celebrate their Independence…” – well, no. You’d be wrong. Wrong if you’re not a fascist who have own plans on what Poland should look like – i.e. White and hetro – and get your wife in the kitchen while you’re at it. Look – the Independence of Poland is a long story, but in short, this day was created to celebrate the reunification of the country, and the Polish way of life. These days though, the Republicans (slash fascists) have taken the day to promote their own agenda.

The reason why I mention this though is, unfortunately for liberal Polish minds, the actions and minds of these people are quite strong and homophobic – so the gays and their friends create a blockade against the homophobes/fascists to put a holt to their parade/march.

Long story short, Bo was involved, and I wanted to include it in this blog. I find it quite sad that the gays in Poland have to fight for respect in such a way. It reminds me of how far Australia has come (yeah, yeah, but not far enough blah, blah, blah)

I think the new scarf and shoes made all the difference...

Here is a police helicopter’s (mind you, it seems like it’s from a toy helicopter) view of the blockades.

Oh – and BTW – the good guys won! ;)

OH SHIT! I forgot to talk about BUDAPEST! Lucky I made a video about it!!!!

And here are the pics to go with it:

Budapest

Grandma serving VERY CHEAP Jagar

A "game show" drag act!? COME ON BUDAPEST!?

Oh come on. A "straight" drag act? #fail

[Editor’s note: Please appreciate what I did with the headline…. well, it covers two of the topics in this blog…]

Day 21: Test(e)ing Times and Warszawa

Now – before I start, I need to alert you that the videos and the text have different content! No one likes it when I repeat myself ;)

I’m in Vienna at the moment, and going to Budapest tomorrow. I’ve had an interesting experience here in regards to my health. The video explains why and how I thought I was going to lose a testicle…

However, before I take you there, come back with me to Warsaw (Warszawa) where I spent three wonderful days with my friend, Bo (Boguslaw). There aren’t many occasions when you connect so deeply with someone in such a short period of time – on so many levels. It made me feel human again, and I really didn’t want to leave.

Having said that, Warsaw is a pretty ugly city… (No offence, but it’s true…) Bo said that I needed to “embrace the ugliness”… So, we went to the top of “Ugly Building”, which happened to be the Centre of Science and Culture (seriously – apples and oranges), which had a wonderful ugly painting of the ugly building in the foyer. Brilliant!

"Ugly Building"

Ugly Painting of Ugly Building (apparently this won a competition)

I got quite upset leaving though, and had my first “down moment” since being away. Chilling out with Bo for those few days really relaxed me, and it was so nice to just enjoy each other’s company without wondering what to do next, and just living “in the moment”.

A highlight would have to be karaoke at a gay bar (after many vodka shots…) where I received a rousing response from the bar after “Truly Madly Deeply”, and Bo got to his knees during Robbie William’s “Angels” (I’m waiting for Bo to deny that happening :p)… then us stealing the spotlight later, but that’s not for here!

OH! Polish pop culture is AMAZINGLY hilarious! I have a new favourite soap star Malgorzata Kozuchowska – who is amazing. She goes to the opening of an envelope, and has three security guards following her around the shopping centre EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A SHOW ANYMORE! Even Dannii walks Ethan around Chapel Street by herself! Malgorzata was on a show called “M jan miłość” (translated to L for Love), which I guess is the Polish version of say, Packed to the Rafters. It’s the highest rating drama in Poland. Local media are busy speculating what she will do next… I CAN’T WAIT!

Malgorzata Kozuchowska

Anyway – here’s what you’ve probably been waiting for…

… and some more random pics from Warsaw:

Bo took me here. Boost Juice SHITS all over it...

Champagne Polish Drama...

Day 15: Loving the Poles

(Well, I was supposed to upload this on Thursday, but I couldn’t upload the video… Another one will follow in the coming days)

WHAT THE EFF?! It’s only been two weeks!? DAY 15?! This is ridiculous. It feels like I’ve been away forever! Well, before I start – thank God I got out of Prague. Sure, it’s pretty – but GEEZ was it full of tourists. I hated that. It seemed very over commercialised for tourist consumption, making me feel like an idiot.

I’m in Poland now, and it’s lovely. It’s mega cheap, the food (and drink) are great, and the Polish are fantastic. I’ve been asked three times by Poles (not actual poles, but Poles) why an Australian would come to Poland. I think they’re flattered ;) But really – it’s seriously the people I meet which makes a city or a country. I think that’s why I loved Berlin so much. It’s certainly part of the reason why I love Poland – great people.

In the video I talk about my first CouchSurfing experience, and what came of it… (unbelievably random/hilarious)… and meeting Bogsuslaw (who I’ve affectionately called “Bo”… oh – yesterday he asked me if there was a “cute short version of James…” I told him he’d have to make one up, cause James has one syllable… – but adorable anyway. haha)

Wasted at 7am...

One thing I didn’t put in the video (cause of time constraints) was Auschwitz. It was fascinating. Depressing, but fascinating. I think it’s the main reason why people travel to Krakow, cause it’s only 70 odd kilometres out of the city (town)… even though it takes 2 fucking hours to get there by train… (sure the trains in Poland are cheap, but they’re fair shit).

Antonella and I (another CouchSurfer – see the video) had a mega-fiece tour guide. She really knew how to style it up for a Nazi concentration camp. She was cold as ice, and had a brilliant delivery for such grim content. If she was in Auschwitz, she would have survived. Anyway – you have to joke about some things, otherwise it just gets to depressing. Some of the things I learnt made me sick. (For anyone who’s been there before – HOW DISGUSTING IS THE HAIR!)

Our "fierce" tour guide

Auschwitz

Another thing Antonella and I experienced was the main cemetery in Krakow during their national holiday for the dead (or All Saints Day). I thought it was a bit weird taking a pic of the candles (it looks amazing), but then I saw a camera crew filming people for the news… News loves grieving people! *eyeroll*

Ok – lets leave it there. I’m off to Vienna next. Can’t wait to do the Sound of Music tour… haha ;)

All Saints Day at Krakow's main cemetery

More candles...

"... and how do YOU celebrate death?"

Krakow at 7am

Bo, Sabina and Antonella on our way to Maccas...

A man play a trumpet at the top of this Church every hour... EVERY hour (even at 4am, when I took this pic...)

Day 10: Feels Like Home

So, I’m in Prague now! I had the most amazing time in Berlin, and met some of the most amazing people. I will never forget it, and I can’t wait to go back. Hopefully my trip didn’t peak too early! Nah, surely not!?

Other things I checked out in Berlin were the Wall and a couple of museums. I would have liked to see more about WWII, but I guess it’s not something they’re proud of. It’s like the US having a G.W. Bush museum. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently they’re building a Bush Museum…)

Prague is REALLY pretty. It feels like I’m in a movie set. The streets are effed though, it’s so easy to get lost, but I’m getting better at making my way around. I feel like SUCH a tourist using a map all the time…

In this video, I talk about the end of my Berlin trip, getting to Prague, Czech men, proposals and bar fights (who said home wrecker?), and genuinely being asked if being gay is an option.

I need to have a nap. I was out till 630am last night. The gay bar played three Kylie songs (AND a Madison Avenue song!) – so, I was pretty happy.

ALSO! I met a woman last night who planned on coming to Europe for a six week holiday. She’s still here, and that was eight years ago… Get OUT! (not literally… you know?)

Me at the castle, with Prague behind me

A Prague Church at night

… and this is still in my head:

Day Four – “Only in Berlin…”

I’m not entirely happy with the vlog today. Hopefully it isn’t boring. Something that ISN’T boring though, is this city. Everyone says how amazing Berlin is, and yeah – it’s pretty amazing.

In the video I talk about my day with Matt, the “well fit” gardener from Brighton, giving my number to a barista which lead to being taken around town with a group of crazy-fun Danish girls.

The hostel I’m in is nice. It’s pretty small (about 20 guests), which is cool cause we’ve been going out together. I had such a nice welcome though! When I checked in, a few of the guests were opening a bottle of bubbly, and by the time I’d put my stuff down, they’d poured me a glass as well – sweet! Also, there was a HOT(!) Israeli guy who said “Just when I leave, a hot Australian boy turns up!” *blush*… I woke the next morning to find him leaving me a love letter with his digits and email address just in case I visit Tel Aviv – score!

Anyway, the hostel is pretty cliche though (remember, it’s gay). Like, you have to pick your time to shower carefully, cause having a shower could turn into much more than you bargained for (which could be a good OR a bad thing – i.e. with the cute muscle-mary German ranga (good), or the hung Polish couple (not bad), or the older tall Danish guy (bad)). Which leads me to another thing – the gay clubs here are NOT JUST gay clubs haha… Like, what looks like a normal dance bar turns into something else behind a few doors and down a corridor or two… *coughcough* darkroomsandporn *coughcough*.

OH – and another thing – I’ve heard Empire of the Sun here THREE TIMES in gay bars. How amazing is that!? You can probably guess I totally peak when that happens…

Also – a lot of people have been thinking I’m German – until I open my mouth. Must be the blue eyes and the fair complexion… I made a joke about being “Hitler’s dream child” the other day. Probably best not to. OH – speaking of getting in trouble, they do uniforms over here REALLY well. Everyone in a uniform looks hot.

Men in uniforms!

Danes + Gin + 1 German + Me = FUN TIMES

The Brandenburg Gate seconds before I met Matt, "well fit" gardener from Brighton.

So, my hostel in Frankfurt happened to be in the red light district. Fancy that!?

Day One – I’VE ARRIVED!

For as long as I remember, I’ve always wanted to travel through Europe, so BOY did I get excited when we were descending into Frankfurt!

I’ve already made a friend with a girl from Adelaide who said I can stay with her and her boyfriend in Hamburg! Off to a good start – especially when I arrived at the wrong city to fly out of Australia. See the below blog for more info.

Flight was good, but not enough 30 Rock and too much of some failed sitcom the woman from Everybody Loves Raymond is in…

Here is what I recorded when I got off my 14+ hour flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

I’m tired. Going to go to sleep. This Wednesday has gone FOREVER!

xx