Date: Tue18Nov - What time is it: 16:53pm. What am I listening to: Some cool rock tune.)
Ok, last time I was so pre-occupied with the weather was when I got to Sydney and I couldn't enjoy the beaches and sunshine. Well, now I am not complaining about sunshine but could we at least have some stability -please?
I woke yesterday facing horizontal torrential rain. You could actually see it from the window's hostel actually hitting the walls, not the ground, an interesting scene but not when you want to go and discover the city.
Luckily by 11am it stopped so I made my way into town on foot (as always). I went to the Ta Papo museum yesterday, a must-see in Wellington, it's an amazing 5 story modern museum that has everything in it: from how Earth was formed and the fact that NZ is sitting on 2 plates that are moving against each other, to Maori traditional artifacts. Great, and oh! It's also free.
The hostel (World Wide Backpackers) has proven to be one of the nicest ones I've stayed in. It's not that it is super clean or new (it's not) but it's SMALL and people are friendly. By the time I got to the hostel it was already past midnight, I found about 6 people sitting in the garden, sipping on beer and wine – but not in a drunk noisy way, it's was so much more chilled out.
Back to yesterday: Museum, tick. Great. I walked around this city but as much as I tried I couldn't be impressed. It's not very big and it is a combination of modern glass buildings and old colonial/Victorian houses – however the vibe was not there. The one thing that strikes you is the lack of people. Yes I know that at 11am people are at work but you would expect to see some life on the streets, it almost reminded me of Jeunes Genevois holiday in Geneva (ok I am exaggerating). Nevertheless, this is a port town (ah glorious sea side) and probably 10 times more modern, 30 times cleaner, 50 times richer than Valparaiso in Chile but I haven't managed yet to smile. Neither the buildings nor the people have impressed me; my eyes have not gone wide from the architecture or the interesting sites. It just looks…nice. Nope, not a place I would live – let alone the fact that I haven't seen yet any decent-looking girls…
I have seen a lot of Germans though. They are the salt of the Earth as far as travelling is concerned. I walked by this other hostel and there was a whole discussion going on in German – 10 people, that were obviously not in the same group. Even in my hostel, more than ¾ are German. We have 2 Danes, 1 girl from Uruguay, a couple of Irish and the rest are German. No discussion about Greeks – I am starting to feel like the DoDo bird, ready to be extinct. I am always greeted with great expressions of surprise or affection: either because "ze Germans" have visited Greece (there's always a story about a family holiday in Cretre or Corfu) or because "I have never met a Greek travelling like this" as a few of the others told me. I guess the rest of the Greeks are broke having paid 12 Euros/drink in Cavo Paradiso in Mykonos this summer or just can't handle the backpacking culture.
I met Angelika, a "slightly different" German, as she also likes to think. Slightly older at 27, she doesn't fit the "year-off" German traveller who like his/her English counterpart is here for drinking. I will give them credit though – they are much better, more interested in seeing this place, not only finding out the bar with the longest happy hour. Having lived & worked in London prior to her trip, she feels that her compatriots are more narrow-minded and do not take advantage of the greatness of this opportunity (travelling). Tell me about it I was about to say – at least Germans travel. We both agreed that you see these trips completely differently if you manage to travel at an "older age". So all you people out there pack your bags and get going.
We ended up drinking beer and watching Casino Royale at the hostel's living room. I needed that after a month of travelling & living with drunken kids.
Growing bag pains (another story)
I remember the weight clearly. It was 19kg when I first put it on my back at 6:00 am on that Thursday morning in Geneva. It seemed heavy but manageable. The walk to Cornavain station was not that painful. Then I went to Latin America and Australia and maybe just like me (I feel I have gained weight) this bag has become heavier. I realized it when I picked it up from the conveyor belt at Cairns – a big red tag was on it "23KG - HEAVY – Bend your knees" it said.
It's the bloody guide books. I want to literally throw them in the water. I am carrying a Lonely Planet guide for Australia, New Zealand and Argentina! I could throw away the Argentina one – it's so out of date it's useless – but it's not mine. I could through the Australia one away but I will be back. I could throw the NZ away but that's a birthday gift. Did I tell you I am carrying another 4 books? I have Geroge Orwell's 1984 (you haven't read it? GO now), Into the Wild (a gift from Vasilis & Tania that I've read but can't throw away) a Sudoku anthology, a Science fiction anthology (crap) and Nikos Kazantzakis' Ασκητική in hard cover given to me by George G. What the hell, am I a backpacker or a bloody mobile library? I can't wait for George & Aris in Japan, get ready guys – 3kg are going back with you. I've bought NOTHING – really. Apart from 2-3 T-shirts I am carrying absolutely nothing more than the basics.
The Greeks in Melbourne and some more photos–
I owed you this one I guess but I decided not to write too much – I will let some of the random photos do the talking. Just remind me to give you the details when I see you, especially on Ilias the store owner. Never have I been thrown back into Greek reality, attitudes and mentality so quickly in my life…
Myer X-mas Parade in Melbourne
Everybody loves X-mas
Best selling T-shirt from Giagia to grandson/daughter.
Pretty big GOCC (Greek Orthodox Community Center) – big banner, no?
Could be Skoufa in Kolonaki but it is Waratah place in Melbourne!
METROPOLIS STORE From T-shirts to Tsalikis
Qui! Les Suisses sont ici aussi!
This is not Mitilini, this is Oliver Lane, downtown Melbourne.
Interview with the King of Clamms: George Kaparos.
Last question: "Do you have any tips for young entrepreneurs?" "Work hard and be good to your mother!" (hahaha)
Beautiful, sunny, Melbourne cityline
Shrine of Remembrance – Father & Son monument connecting 2 great wars. This is a wonderful site – true testament to the guts the Aussies showed in Turkey/Gallipoli and all the other conflicts they were (dragged) in
Shrine of Remembrance – (AMF) Australian Military Forces: Greece, Crete and more…
Flower clock: Clearly not Jardin Anglais in Geneva
Melbourne: Life is too important to be taken seriously (my kind of city)
NEXT STOP: TAUPO FOR SKYDIVING!!!