Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bodacious Brighton; The Beginning

I say the beginning because so much has happened in this amazing city that I completely fell in love with...yes I do know I say that about a lot of places but trust me on this one!! So this will most likely be a series of the awesome bodacious-ness of this sea side city. Forgive me for my current overuse of early 90’s slang words, it just feels right.

On my return to England I saw English boy again and had decided I can’t hold it against him for not falling madly in love with me (even though he completely lead me on and then retracted his feelings!!!). I was just going to ignore the mess that was Karlsruhe, be an adult and a friend and chat with the lad. That turned into dinner, then him being sweet holding and hugging me and then his apology which all made me melt once more. Only to be crushed yet again later on. Word to the wise if a guy has to apologize especially at the beginning do not take that as a sign that he is a sweet caring guy. He should not do anything that should warrant an apology in the first place! But before all that repeat crushing happened I jumped on a bus to Brighton, England.

Brighton is on the South Coast of England and I had heard a lot about this place previously. Everyone always told me, you have to go to Brighton, you would love it! Then my English girlfriends I met in Peru in 2009 moved there for University so I had to go while I was doing my rounds in England. I always thought I could live in England again but then memories of Southampton haunt me; it wasn’t the most inviting of cities. The weather was shit, it literally rained every day. Everyone was Polish and couldn’t understand why I didn’t speak Polish, The English just complained about the weather, no matter if it was sunny or raining and my suffocating, over protective, controlling boyfriend made it hard for me to make friends. Yes you can see why I loved it there. Then there is London, which is amazing and has so much going, I have been there on five different occasions which is a record for me and foreign cities and I never tire of it but could I actually live there? To visit yes but to live, I’m not too sure. It's very big, expensive, overcrowded and besides Hyde Park there isn’t much nature around to escape to.

Now Brighton however is this little oasis just an hour train ride away from the hustle and bustle of London. You really do not feel like you are in England there with the beautiful pebble beach and old historic buildings overlooking the shore and the pier with carnival rides year round. Add to this an alternative bohemian lifestyle and a very large gay population referred by many as the gay capitol of Britain. The climate is milder than other parts of Britain and usually less rainy as the winds from the sea blows away the rain.

Artistic people thrive in the atmosphere of this city with theatres, films, vintage shops and cafes, as well as some of the best musicians. Brighton hosts the second largest Arts and Fringe Festival in the UK after Edinburgh (The Brighton Festival). You also have Brighton Pride, Burning the Clocks a winter solstice celebration, White Night a free all night arts festival for when the clocks go back in October. Then there is Bonfire night also known as Guy Fawkes Night which commemorates said man’s failed attempt to assassinate the King with a whole lot of gun powder on November 5th 1605. Lewes a small town near Brighton Boast the largest and most famous Bonfire night celebration in the country and I had specifically planned this part of my trip to be able to witness the spectacle!

>> I will be discussing more on Brighton and my experiences there so don't fret there is more to come! However one of my friends who I was visiting there has create a blog about the amazing divesity of Brighton so to find out even more check this out!!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Loved up Couple

"You know, some of us will never, ever find true love, like, take for instance… me. And I’m pretty sure that guy right over there. And the lady with the sideburns. And basically everybody at table nine."

My English boy bubble was popped but things were briefly looking up again. I was with Gisela remembering life in Mexico and was enjoying the Germans but then I took off to meet the friend I was visiting in Karlsruhe but this time in Strasbourg where I was to meet her new Boyfriend. He was a German/French/Belgium mixture that she met in Australia. She knows I haven’t really liked any guy that she has been with but I had an open mind and she seemed crazy about him.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the lovey dovey loved up couple that I had to deal with for the weekend. I should have known from the wall posts I have seen on facebook but I figured perhaps that was because they were doing a long distance thing and felt the need to constantly profess their love for each other for the whole facebook world to see. I can understand people can be a bit insecure when their lover is on another continent so why not put hearts on his facebook wall and mushy barf worthy comments to keep the bitches away. It didn’t end there though unfortunately life isn’t a plane ride equiped with a barf bag so I had to endure it.

I really couldn’t bring myself to like him, in the beginning, Jokes and humour didn’t translate too well so we couldn’t have a good laugh together, plus his lips were attached to her. Every two seconds I heard smack, smack, smack, the sound of him kissing her cheek, her head, and her lips. It was constant. How could I take him seriously if I couldn’t have a conversation with him without hearing that sound? It was the soundtrack to our tram rides never ending face sucking sound. It hit an all time peak when they were feeding each other at the Mongolian grill restaurant; I looked on in utter shock. Could they not get their own plates? Could they not put their own forks in their own mouths?

They no longer have separate possessions. It was their plate, their dinner, their dessert. Her IPod was no longer hers it was theirs, their money, their apartment, their seat on the tram. There were clearly enough empty seats on the tram but she sat on his lap! It was doing my head in.

Ok sure I may be a bit cynical especially after my romance turned into a nightmare but this was ridiculous! I pictured myself banging my head off the hot grill in front of me.

I wanted to like him, I really did but I felt like I couldn’t I wasn’t getting to know him, all I could see was the loved up couple monster that they morphed into. They weren’t two people, they were one. If they were famous the tabloids were give them a super couple name like Bennifer or Brangelina, Perhaps Nicodice or Canlai.

I think it took alcohol to help me warm up to him; alcohol has a way of bringing people together. he let her wrap him in toilet paper like a mummy to dress him up for Halloween. He got right into it and didn’t even complain- brownie points for that. The fact that he wanted to go to a night club with his girlfriend was also good, a lot of couples do get very boring and tend to fall off the social scene because they are “in love” and don’t need to go out and party. He didn’t stray away from the nasty 99 euro cent swamp mix they were selling at the club and he was cool with her hanging out with me.

He truly loves her with his whole being and I am pretty sure it isn’t all just a show. He really does care for her and he treats her well. She seems incredible happy and that’s all you can really ask for isn’t it? So eventually the baby talk, the cutesy faces and the endless kissing in public will ware off (let’s hope the hell it does!) but it doesn’t seem like the love, support, caring and kindness for my best friend will (Let’s hope to hell it doesn’t).

So equiped with my barf bag I give him my seal of approval but in the end they do not need anyones approval just do what makes you feel happy and if that means making me barf then so be it!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ze Germans and Zer Funny ways

Having been a Gringa in Latin America for so long it was interesting to be on a new continent, immersed in a new culture. Although I do have a bit of history with Ze Germans, I worked three years for Lufthansa in a call centre where all my supervisors would stand behind me speaking loud aggressive German. I didn’t know if I was doing something wrong or right or they were just gossiping about getting shit faced the night before. I had flight benefits whilst working for them and had to fly standby so the Frankfurt airport became a familiar place to spend the night curled up on a hard chair waiting for my next flight out of that country. Only once did I stay in Germany while working for them and that’s when they paid me to go to the Lufthansa training complex in Seeheim or as my supervisor called it Sexheim. Apparently there is quite a bit of bed hopping in the complex that has three bars, a bowling alley, squash courts, a pool, sauna and Turkish bath but I won’t go into what happened when I was there.

So I already knew quite a bit about Germans before but now I was in their natural habitat where I could observe them properly and from my extensive research I have compiled a list of what I found.

Germans are quite modest and shy. Whenever I approached one to ask for directions I felt it polite to ask in German first if they spoke English and 100% of the time they would always say, just a little but then they carry on a full conversation in perfect English.

It is true Germany is very clean and very environmentally friendly. Everywhere outside there are not just garbage bins which a lot of cities lack but there are multi sectioned bins labelled for recycling ; plastic, cans, paper etc.. It took the London boy forever to figure out the rubbish bins.

There is no background noise. Seriously! It is really really quiet! Even if you see a construction site you can’t hear the work going on. There is some sort of efficient German vortex that sucks up the background noise in cities. The trams would come into the square pick people up and breeze out without a sound. I felt like I was in the Steven King movie The Langoliers. No horns honking, no music playing, no murmur of people chatting, it was very perplexing and haunting.

My friend who I came to visit however didn’t agree with me so I put it down to the fact that I am used to the organized chaos of Latin America. English boy who I met in Colombian noticed this as well as my friend who I lived with in Mexico. It was too quiet and it actually really bothered me.

Perhaps if the activities on the street were a bit louder I would have been able to hear the thousands of bicycles that almost ran me over. I was starting to accept the fact that I was either going to die in this country by being run over by a bike or a tram. Everyone rides bikes. There are huge parking lots just for bikes with thousands all chained up. You have to really make sure where you are walking because if you are on a bike path look out they ain’t stopping.

I could really go on about the crazy things in Germany like those white sausages they like to eat in the Beer Haus that look like a Ginger man’s penis (not that I have ever been with a Ginger man but that is what I expect they would look like). Their love of bakeries and sweets but yet they all stay quite slim. How I found their language sounds quite dirty like this sign I discovered:

And my friend’s favourite saying: “Gute Fahrt”

I do have to say my favourite funny thing in Germany is the observation deck. Now I am referring to the toilets. Germans have their own unique and amazing toilets! There is a small space for the water to go down and a little deck for your poo to drop where you can have a good look and check 'er out. However there are a few negatives to this amazing invention.

1. There is no water to hide the smell of your number two and let’s face it your shit does stink!

2. What happens when you have the diarrhoea? I didn’t come across this problem but I am thinking, your going to have one messy arsehole.

3. If it's a fair size, like she was a pretty dense jobby then even the pressure of the water isn’t going to help it off that shelf.

The English Boy and How it all Went Wrong

I came to Karlsruhe to visit my best friend from Canada and the English Boy who I thought was crazy for me tagged along. He had literally swept me off my feet right from my arrival to the airport. Little did I know the enthusiasm of our first few days together would wear off and so quickly. I guess the Tracy expiry date is a lot shorter than I thought? I was baffled how someone could be so happy and excited to see and be with me in London then as soon as we stepped off the plane into Germany it was a whole other story. I was ignored; everything I said was criticized and argued with. I felt like a complete idiot trying to get his attention. I watched my Euros I spent on the B and B go down the toilet along with my dignity. I am a strong independent traveller, a free spirit, a gypsy. I leave hearts broken in my wake as I venture across the lands but there I was trying to please him. I couldn’t help it though he fuelled my desire and I jumped into the fire head first arms flailing.

I wasn’t staying in England forever so what was the problem? No pressure, no string attached just fun and lovin and well if something happened then something happened. In Colombia we had endless chats lying in a hammock but now I had to drag conversation out of him. We kept in contact and talked on Skype with no problem but now in the flesh in Germany I felt like he was slipping away like sand through my fingers. What happened to the fun, free spirited person I had met in South America?

I am beginning to realize people are different when they travel but the thing is I really don’t think I am. For me this is my life, this is my lifestyle, I am not on a round the world bender. I am not more outgoing; I don’t party more or drink more. I don’t do drugs just because it’s “Colombia”. I admit I may date more men on my travels but do you know where I am from? Could you picture me in a pick-up truck? I didn’t think so. To me traveling isn’t vacation, it isn’t an all inclusive, it’s my life and my most transcendental work. I don’t act crazy and wild and do whatever I want because I think this is a once in a lifetime experience. To me everything is a once in a life time experience.

I have met up with a few people in Canada who I met traveling but this time around I have really noticed people are different but this isn’t a bad thing. People sometimes go away to try new things, find themselves, be someone else, let loose and lose control. Travel to some people is an escape and then I they all eventually come back to reality where they work, live in tiny flats, are in relationships and don’t even know where the closet pub is. They give in to the mundane.

Maybe they are the smart ones, maybe I am avoiding reality but maybe I just have a different reality where I take chances, I talk to strangers, I dine alone in a restaurant, I do everything to not live in a bubble because no matter where I am, in my hick hometown in Canada, in South America, Europe, Montreal, the world is amazing and everyone has a story.

I really didn’t understand this English boy’s problem but he probably didn’t understand either. Again I think it’s a traveller thing, I found it quite easy to read my tarot cards to travellers usually they were quite confused and in a crossroads in life. Well call me stupid but I thought I would take a chance. I was disheartened but I was in Germany after all and he shipped back to the UK......


I landed in Karlsruhe to visit my friend from home who is now working in this random Germany city after falling in Love in a Germany, Belgium, and France mixture of a guy when she lived in Australia. They kept their romance alive over an entire year a part with her in Canada and him in Germany. He was now in Strasbourg France just across the border from her in Germany. Finally their love could flourish and grow.

This girl has to be my oldest best friend. Who has been a part more in the last five years than together with me in Greece, Egypt, Jordan, England, Mexico....well with me all over the place and her in Australia? Through it all we have always stayed close true friends. Even if we don’t hear from each other in ages we know that no time or distance can disrupt our friendship and that is a true friend. She came to visit me when I lived in Greece and now it was my turn to visit her in her far off land.

I came just in time as well; she was finding herself missing home and being frustrated by not knowing the language and not having people to talk to. She said she never felt this way in Australia because it was such a similar culture to Canada that she didn’t feel home sick. It was familiar and comfortable for her. For me however I had to admit to her I am quite the opposite, when I am in a country where I don’t know the language where the culture is different and everything is new and unknown I will never miss home. I absorb the culture and try to immerse myself. A new country to me is a new challenge. How could I even think of home when I am dancing in a square in Mexico or playing paddle ball and trying to speak Portuguese on the beaches of Rio. I want to know everything about the place I am in, I want to learn the language and learn about the people from what they wear, what the drink, and their unique mannerisms to traditional dance and legends.

I was happy and excited to be in Germany, just for the fact that it was a new place to conquer and a new challenge for me. I tried to order bread in the bakery below our B and B every morning in my most horrible German. I couldn’t default to Spanish and I forced myself not to speak English which made it quite hard with my ten German word vocab but I put the effort and always came away giggling with the ladies in the bakery or the guy at the train station.

Karlsruhe wasn’t really the most fascinating city to visit but I didn’t go to see the city I went to see my friend. I did enjoy it though. It had a fantastic zoo right smack in the middle of the city. There is a beautiful palace with huge gardens. The square in the centre has a market in the middle and is lined with old buildings housing cafes perfect for people watching. All the restaurants have outdoor seating which was still being used even in the cold weather, they had throw blankets on all the chairs for people to keep the afternoon wine and beer drinkers warm. The surrounding country side is amazing for hiking which we really didn’t have time to do. There are also baths close by which the countryside is named after “Baden Baden.” This busy business centre isn’t so much a tourist haven but with a local guide I saw a different side of Germany.

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