Top of the muffin...TO YOU!!
Sent 6 December 2001 from Dublin
Greetings people, how's it hangin'?
How is it hanging, indeed?
Last update I sent was when we were in Slovenia and ohsomuch has happened since then that I simply HAD to inform you all.
Where to start? Well, Slovenia was, of course, very good. I learnt a lot, too, including a smattering of the wacky language. I still made mistakes, though. This one time, I was in a pub with Natasha's cousin and cousin-in-law and was trying to explain that relationship to someone else in the pub. When asked why I was in a Slovenian pub, instead of replying that my girlfriend Natasha was the sestricna (female cousin) of one of the boys, I said that she was his stranice (toilet). Oh, mercy!
Other things I've learnt:
1. When someone says something unintelligible to you in a foreign language and laughs, just repeat what they said loudly and laugh back, unless they are holding a gun.
2. When nature calls and you're on top of a mountain and it's really windy and there's no stranisce, make sure you face the right direction.
When I last wrote I mentioned that we were heading to London on 21 November. Unfortunately, that plan fell through as Natasha's grandfather died while we were there so we changed our flight so that we could go to the funeral (which was as good as funerals (in Slovenian) get) and flew in to London on Saturday the 24th. At the Trieste airport, on realising we had nowhere to stay in London, I called Spencer - the bloke we stayed with when we first arrived in London 3 months before and whom I had surprised with a call from Heathrow that time around:
'Hi, Spencer, it's me - I'm at the airport!'
'Uhhh - it's me. Riley!'
'Oh. OK. Why are you at the airport?'
'Your mum hasn't spoken to you, has she...'
Spencer was very gracious that first time, despite the lack of warning and our less-than-fragrant arrival on that Saturday evening, and, though we didn't want to hassle him again, all of our other options for accommodation had fallen through, so I had only called him as it was a backpacking emergency. I think he was somewhat bemused to hear from me again ('Hi, Spencer? It's Riley again. I'm at an airport...again...') but despite the bad telephone connection we established that I should call when we landed and something would be worked out. What a relief!
On flying into Stanstead airport I tried calling him for an hour-an-a-half before concluding that we should probably get some other accommodation (by this time it was around 11pm). Swallowing my credible backpacker pride, we caught a train to Earl's Court and after trying a few full places, managed to negotiate to stay in a hotel for 40 quid (no breakfast). Since flying into London 3 hours before, we had caught the train from Stanstead into the city, caught the tube to Earl's Court and then paid for one night's accommodation. Our total costs since we had arrived - around $210 Australian. That's GOTTA hurt!
London is ridiculously expensive and everyone's advice has been: DON'T CONVERT! (currencies, that is, not religions). If you don't convert from pounds sterling into Australian dollars when buying things or looking at prices, then maybe the bad things don't happen. Just like the Catholic Church did during the Holocaust. But I digress.
It does stop hyperventilating and pains in the chest, though.
When in London, Tasha and I were pretty slack, though it was hard to get out and about and see things during the fifteen minutes or so that the sun was up. All right, it's a little longer than that, but it does get dark by around 4 in the afternoon, now. It's out-RAGE-ous!
One thing we did get to go to was the British Museum. This is a very cool museum, and not just because it's free (though that's where it gets 95% of it's cool-ness from). We only had time to see (part of) the Egyptian exhibition. Quite amazing the stuff they've got there. However, it does make you wonder about all the places that these museums have ripped stuff off from (eg Egypt). One of the exhibits is of a gigantic hand and gigantic head from the same gigantic statue. The exhibit notes that 'the torso remains in Egypt'. They should have written 'We'd have the whole thing, but we were sprung bad as when we nicked it and only made off with these bits.'
However, the plan was to look for work and accommodation on our return to London. We soon realised that this was going to be immensely difficult, primarily because of our Christmas plans. Did I mention that a bunch of us, including Dan-the-man Watkins and Lisa McComedy, are skiing in Andorra over Christmas? I didn't?!?! Well, we are!!
Anyway, it was becoming difficult to get a job when we would need to take a week off three weeks after we would start (especially when I was saying: 'I didn't mention that we were skiing? Well, WE ARE!!!!' and then laughed and hung-up the phone). It was around this time that Mr David O'Brien let us know that he couldn't come visit us in London, but that we were welcome to visit him in Dublin. The stage was set...
A quick search on the Ryanair website revealed that we could fly to Dublin (from a range of airports) for, wait for it, 1p!! That's right - £0.01! We were sold. We ended up booking flights out of Glasgow to Dublin and then arranged to get up to Edinburgh by bus, stay there a few days, across to Glasgow by train and then arrive in Dublin on the 5th. Which was yesterday. So I'm in Dublin now. Writing an e-mail to you. From Dublin.
Going back in time a little, though, in our remaining time in London we saw two movies with the gang - the first was a cool little film called 'Ghost World'. The second was, quite possibly, the greatest piece of cinematography and most well-written comment on human society ever seen thus far - it was, of course, 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back'!!! With the great line: '...which is the worst idea since Greedo shooting first'. It was well worth the A$50 we paid to see it (Don't Convert! DON'T CONVERT!!!)
Edinburgh was great. A truly beautiful city, fascinating history, friendly people, many, many pubs. We're going back there when we fly out of Dublin. An interesting thing that we learned about Scotland is that it originally came from an entirely different landmass to England. Scotland was once part of a continent that included Canada, Greenland and parts of Scandinavia; England was with the rest of Europe. They bumped into each other a few million years ago and, strangely enough, the current border (which is around about the border that the Romans made with Hadrian's Wall) is on the actual geological border between the two landmasses. Freaky, hey? But, the freakiest thing is, as the Scottish guy who told us about this said: 'Of ALL the people in the world to bump into!!!'
I had some honest-to-goodness haggis in a pub called 'The Last Drop' (which is situated outside the site where executions used to take place - very funny). Wasn't too bad. Also good to be back in countries where they know what garlic bread is (really, it's not a hard concept, people). Also climbed up Arthur's Seat, checked out the Museum of Scotland (very cool...and free), watched 'Hercules Returns' in the hostel and then went and saw some live music. We actually went to the Royal Oak Hotel to see ... 'Riley'! Two blokes, one of them whose first name was Riley. He freaked out when Natasha told him I was also Riley. I think he may have an identity crisis now. I'm kind of OK with other people being called Riley since I met a two year old girl in Numerkah called Riley...
And now we're in Dublin, staying with Dave (he says 'hi' to some of you, the more attractive ones). I'm very much looking forward to going out tonight and having my first Guinness in almost 4 months, as I've been saving myself for Ireland! Actually ... I'm going now.
Have fun, write and tell me what ya's are doing and take care, it's a playground out there.
love the rilestar
PS Enjoy Meredith (the Music Festival, that is) those of you who are going sob.