Tabool

Today was most definetly one of the most amazing, beautiful and beyond anything I could ever imagine I would experience. It started last night when I landed into Amsterdam, within minutes of being  on the train into the city I already met an awesome rapper from a small town near Jamacia. He had a strong accent and showed me how to catch a tram, how to exit the station and just gave me some general advise on the area. This alone was a good start to amsterdam. I made my way to my hostel from the tram, which I must add was very simple to follow, nowhere near as horrible as Australia! The guy at the front counter of the hostel was actually living where I grew up as a kid, I found this amazing, and he told me to make my way up to The “Schipol Dorm”and I was bed 4. Only if I knew what was in store for me ahead.

I met Eyal lying down on his bed half asleep, and already it felt like I was just saying hello again like I would any old friend. We got talking and he was from Israel and after a few laughs decided it would be a good idea to make our way into Amsterdam the next day together and he would help me find my hostel. The next morning, I woke up and we awoke together and brushed our teeth, witnessed some disturbing brekfast TV in the Christian Hostel. We both decided it would be best to get out of there and so we trammed it into Centraal together to find my new home for the next few weeks. Thank god we had each other, after both of us almost being hit by trams, bikes, buses and god knows what, we made it unscathed to the backpackers only to have to go out for another km to find an ATM.

Throughout this process we were talking about everything from what drives someone to do what is their passion, through to funny things like the heater in our room. Now to understand this, you need to imagine how cold it is outside in Holland at the moment. Its pretty cold. Anyway, the heater in our room was on and working, however the only thing it was heating was itself. I am not even joking, it was luke warm at best, meaning the only thing the heater was keeping warm was the heater itself.

I was quite worried about the Hostel I was staying in after some sketchy reviews, but Going with Eyal made me feel much better about the whole experience. He helped me settle into my room and even gave me a padlock for free. After looking around a bit and having a quick power yack from the poor quality yogurt that morning, it was time to taste the “Dutch Goodness”at a local coffeeshop. It was an amazing coffee shop, very mellow, very few people and most of all had an amazing strain list. We decided upon Amnesia Haze, a very good choice. I felt so relaxed and my mind was clear as a bird. However, despite the awesome vibe of the shop, there was no way we were sticking around.

An obvious aftermath of any coffeeshop is munchies so we went to a noodle bar called Wok n Walk. Eyal met the guy serving us and he was talking Hebrew. I couldnt beleive it, this is what multi culutralism is all about, isn’t it? I, an Australian, was talking to a Israeli Hebrew speaking chef in a japanese restraunt in Amsterdam. Well that was a head fuck to both Eyan and I so we decided to make our way to whereever the tides of Amsterdam were to take us.

We did the usual Amsterdam Wander that most tourists would do, we looked around the shops, around the bars and of course a few headshops were we picked up some delicious cake. One thing that was different however was that we were together, two strangers drawn together by life, and then became best mates. It was so beautiful and the walking around was certainly something I will never forget, because along with it was the talking and of course the photos of the sights.

Overall we bared witness to a cheeky street performer that got €5 of me for getting out of a straight jacket and chains, very impressive. We saw a few girls in windows, a lot of weed and the amazing archiecture of Amsterdam. But I loved how I was talking about some of my deepest most intimate thoughts with someone I hadn’t even known for 24 hours.

It was slowly approaching the time I had to say good bye and the discussion was getting deep and strong. I started realising what it is to have a travel friend and how friends are everywhere and are to be cherished. The moments of time I had with Eyal where some of the best of my life, I learned more than I could ever express through just a blog post, but I just now realise how valuable time is with friends and how getting through the sadness of goodbyes makes one so strong.

Many hugs, handshakes, goodbyes and watery eyes were shed between the two of us at the platform as I said goodbye. I know I will see him again, life just tells me so. I made my slow introspective walk back to the trams and then the hostel, which brings me to now. Now time to go and repeat this cycle and meet some more people instead of sitting here blogging. That was amazing. It is a memory I will never forget. Thankyou Eyal, that was something I can only wish for in a dream trip to Amsterdam, and it came to me already on the first day.

 

Thank you.

 

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Edinburgh the first few days

After arriving from my flight, I was questioned by the Glasgow airport security to the extent I had to tell them what subject I did in high school with the person I was staying with. A seemingly stupid question, although I can see how that would trip someone up if they were lying about who they were staying with. The busses and trains are actually really simple which I was surprised about considering how confusing they made it out to be on their website.#

I had forgotten how well designed and large european train stations were. I mean Perth central station has a few little shops and a book shop, and that is the biggest train station there. In Edinburgh the train station has bagel shop, a Burger King, hone boxes and even a bottleshop! Boarding the train, I was surprised to see a man go up and down the isles selling drinks and snacks. Now in Perth, eating or drinking on the train is officially ban, although you can get away with it. However, drinking alcohol on the train – don’t even think about trying that one. In the UK, not only are you allowed to drink alcohol on the train, the dude with the cart sells it to you!

When I got back to the flat I was staying at I went up to the roof for a view over the area I was staying at. I think the picture tells it better than I do. It was a beautiful experience and an amazing start to my first few days.

It has taken me the first few days to rid this jet lag and get myself into the feel of Edinburgh, I love it, I really do. It has so much culture to it and it has so much depth. Nothing here feels artificial or fake, it has the sense of genuine culture and antiquity to it that I haven’t properly experienced before. I mean a castle in the middle of a city, with an overlooking mountain is certainly something unique.

Scottish Culture is still something I am trying to learn the ropes of. My friend Elliot told me that there is a stone heart on the ground that people spit on as you walk past. I assumed this mean an opprtunity to clear the lungs and apply liberally. So after a few coughs I slobbered all over this heart. I noticed Elliots /facepalm when I did this and I wondered had I done something wrong. Only after my slobber and phlegm was scattered over the heart did I realise I took it a little too far; although as Elliot said “If someone saw you doing that, they would have thought you were Scottish for sure…”

The drinking culture here is huge, and is certainly something I can get a hold of. Wine and beer is served everywhere from a local corner shop, to the kebab shop to the super market. Its accessible like nowhere else I have been. It is not just that it is everywhere either, the beer selection here is truly amazing, the shops always have a beer that can tickle my palate.

All in all I have yet to go inside many of the major tourist attractions, but I have definitely had a feel for what true Scottish culture and life is like. I think this trip has made me think so far about what culture really is. So many people go travelling to a new place, see the sights and a strange place, but don’t experience just a day-to-day life of someone living there. I do look forward to hopefully seeing the castle, but just having walked around some amazing Edinburgh routes, I feel pretty amazed by this beautiful city already.

 

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Bur Dubai and The Souks

Today was a strange experience I must say. I found myself in the house of a strange Indian bag seller who assured me that what he was doing was somewhat legal. Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure he had good intentions, but I already told him I didn’t want to buy anything so once we were up there it was awkward. To make it there, we went down an alley of a street I was already lost in, the up a tiny elevator to the end of a corridor to his house. I have done this before in Dubai, but not alone, and not in such a seedy looking apartment. He sat me down in front of him at the desk and proceed to pull out watches, wallets and belts of all brands and sizes. Possibly due to his poor English, every product in the “shop” had to be shoved in my face along with the words “you have this now”, despite him actually meaning: “Would you like to buy this one”. I was now starting to feel a little apprehensive about this situation, particularly because two of his friends just walked into the room. I was now alone, with three strange men, in god knows where, surrounded by illegal copies of handbags.

Although things started to get less awkward once he realised I didn’t intend on buying any of his counterfeit watches, handbags, wallets or belt, the fact I was still sitting in his shop, at a desk still brought a strange feel to the air. We then started the usual “language barrier” conversation. For those readers who do not know, this usually entails swapping of names, basic family information and immensely brief occupation and social life stories. It turned out that we had a lot less in common than I thought. I couldn’t then, and still can’t decipher his intentions of that meeting after that point, as he both seemed very interested in my life but also still very keen on getting money out of me.

After being complimented on my hair a few too many times, I decided it was time to head off. So the three of us made it downstairs and out to the street for them to give me directions back to the Dubai Creek which I had now been looking for, for over an hour. However, I should have known I would not get away that easily. As we walked down the fake marble steps from his apartment block, I was introduced to a further 6 of his friends, meaning I was now surrounded by 9 entirely foreign Indian men, all smiling at me and talking in Hindi. I introduced myself and offered them all a smoke (I don’t actually really smoke, but I carry them on hand while travelling for situations just like this one). Apparently, this called for a Kodak moment and all them wanted a photo with me. This is one thing I dont understand properly, wanting to get photos with foreigners!

I finally made my goodbyes, with some of them following me asking if I wanted to buy any T-shirts. Now with directions, I could finally head to the creek for some serious abra action! These things are impossible to navigate, so I just decided to try it out and hop on the randomly. For little of 25cents AUD per ride, what did I have to loose in just randomly hopping on different abras and seeing where they go. To think the man wanted to charge me 120 Dirham for an hour boat ride around the river when for just 10 I could make 10 different trips all over the river!

After wandering through gold souks, strange shops, and seeing hundreds of “Textile Trader” shops that all looked exactly the fucking same, I decided to grab some grub and call it a night. The taxi ride home was exhausting to say the least and I have no idea why. I was just wrecked. Possibly from the 6 hours of Dubai Souks I now have behind me. What a day.

 

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