A Travellerspoint blog

Paris Gave Me Herpes

sunny

Ok, not herpes, but a horrible fever that left me convulsing and bed ridden. And really, I can only blame myself.

As with any dirty seductress, Paris wasted no time. We went crazy on each other for five days. Day and night exploring all our senses, pushing our bodies to the limit, sweating, aching and yearning for more and more. However, I am sorry to say that in the end I couldn't handle her. Her ferocity got to me on the 6th day and I was out for the count. Paris had left me broke, wet and confused.

Well thats what it felt like. In reality, Mel and I had an absolute blast, but admittedly did way more than our bodies could handle and I paid for it. But, getting to that point was spectacular, and if I had an option, I dont know if I wouldve done things much differently.

So we flew into France from Scotland, our last native English speaking destination for the next 4 months, feeling a bit anxious about the language and and the stories everyone said about how much they love Paris, but how rude and arrogant Parisians are. Well our host and the first Parisian we met, Marie, picked us up at the airport some 2 hours out of the city, after taking the day off to do so, which was incredible. Marie knew Mel from working together briefly some three years ago, but I was a complete stranger. None the less we had been invited to stay with her parents at their home, and man did we feel welcome.

Again, blown away by the generosity and hospitality of others, we were greeted with welcoming arms. Maries parents had prepared for us a magnificent feast soaked in French tradition. So delicious. I wont describe it here cause I'll be drooling on the keyboard, but we were definitely spoilt. Lets just say a perfect combination of wines, meat and cheese. And this hospitality was to be the norm for the whole week, shattering all previous anxiety and expected French stereotypes, and despite the language barrier, we all felt a lot closer when we left. I even remember at one point thinking that the next person that tells me that French people are rude and arrogant, are going to tell the next person that Australians are crazy and violent cause I would've punched them in the face.

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Anyway, the sun was out, and we were ready to embark on our Parisian adventures. After the spectacular lunch, Marie took us into the city to get our first taste of Paris's alluring perfume. Turns out it was literally the scent of piss and dog excrement that filled the air, but somehow the cities charm and nature over powered it. To get our bearings, we jumped on one of the canal boats for a cruise down the Seine.

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Like a wide eyed wanderer I gazed upon the city of romantic dreams, of artistic pilgrimage, of proud history and rich culture. The lazy caress of the boats hull against the waters surface juxtaposed the frenzied flurry of my eyes, trying desperately to lick every detail of every monument and taste every facet of life on the river. With a dumb smile I took a million photos like any good tourist, pausing only to soak in some piece of new magnificence discovered for the first time, or occasionally reciprocate a friendly wave from the riverbank. The riverbank itself produced a great insight to current Parisian life. Again the melting pot of Europe's old and new was appreciated as on the water underneath a cathedral some thousand years old, framed by a bridge of intricate detail, groups of friends huddled and laughed, drinking wine and eating and playing music together. And it is a reminder that such buildings arent just important because they are old, but are representative of the history itself, shaping not only the city, but the lives of its inhabitants as well, both past and present.

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Still buzzing from the realisation that we were in Paris, Marie then led us through some of the districts in search for cheese, the oxygen of the French. We ended up in an awesome little boutique store, procuring the ingredients for dinner.

And well, dinner was amazing also. Cheese, bread and wine. Perfect. Admittedly, although I loved the idea of just cheese for dinner, I was sceptical of its practical success, but it worked. And we also got to share it with more lovely French people, Julian, Maries boyfriend, and Noel, their friend, who had the displeasure of having his name translated to English and consequently being called Christmas for the remainder of the night. I actually think it will stick.

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So day one of the cities seduction was complete. We had flirted, and she had teased, revealing glimpses of herself that only left me wanting more. And although I went to bed that night with Melissa, I was dreaming of her, of Paris, and all the crazy things the three of us could do together.

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Posted by Clayton30 10:46 Archived in France Tagged paris europe 2012 Comments (1)

Under the Kilt

Exploring old junk in Scotland.

sunny

Well, so much has happened in the short time we have been here. Coming from Australia its pretty mind blowing just how much change can occur with a one or two hour train trip, both cultural and environmental. And considering we are flying through places, its going to be hard to sit down and write about them to the extent that I'd like and that they'd deserve. One such place is where we left off last, in Edinburgh.

So I already explained that we dug the castle, the picturesque centre of the city, but over the course of the week we dug a little bit deeper into its life and that of the surrounding Scottish countryside. And one of the biggest reasons we were able to do this and appreciate it so well, was the generosity of our hosts.

Rob, Gem and Em were absolutely amazing. They welcomed us into their home and their lives and we really felt quite privileged. Thank you so guys! Im sorry but I had to put a photo :)

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So, a bit of a whirlwind highlight tour.

So, from the castle flows The Royal Mile, a colourful strip sparkling with souvenir stores and historical landmarks. We did this stroll a few times over the week and saw something new each one. Plus the little cobblestone streets that run off it are equally as interesting and in different ways.

At the end of the mile, framing the city in its majesty is Arthur's Seat. On the second day in the city, we had planned a few things to do such as museums and the palace, but in the morning, as we passed the foot of the mountain, I felt the need to climb it. So we ditched our plans and trekked up to a point where we could see the whole of Edinburgh and more. Its was beautiful. And what made it more amazing was that Melissa has a crippling fear of heights, particularly fearing she will blow off the edge, but on this windy day she powered through it, scaled the rocky facades and kicked fear in the arse. I was very proud of her. And I'll admit that a couple of places where the icy tongue of vertigo whispered warning in my ear. But again, it was phenomenal.

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After playing hiker for half the day, we thought we would replenish the tank with vital nutrients and electrolytes, so we went for a pint and a pie. I cant say I was a fan of the local Scottish Ale, but the pie was decent and the bar was pretty cool so we enjoyed it. Add to that that it started raining as we got inside and miraculously stopped as we left, it felt as if it was meant to be.

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Throughout the other days we visited museums, saw some beautiful art, strolled the streets, admired the architecture and tried to really soak up the cities charm.

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And partook in some local jazz

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On occasion we would hit the road to the outskirts and visit castles, ruins and little villages frozen in time. Stirling Castle was nice, authenticated by the many battles taken place at its doorstep. We went to St Andrews, famous for its golf course, but enjoyed by us for its beach. Not that it was a particularly nice beach, it was pretty cool, but because we never thought of going to the beach in Scotland. The town itself was pretty too. The rich little white kids with perfect posture and sweaters tied around their necks made us laugh, as well as the multitude of Kate Middleton wannabes. But it did have a good vibe, and an old cathedral in ruins, my favourite type.

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But I will say that of all the things we saw outside of Edinburgh, Rossyln Chapel really blew us away. Again, thanks to Rob and Gem for driving us, we witnessed something of unique beauty. Now, as we werent allowed to take photos while there, I suggest you look it up. But believe me when I say that in person, the place truly left me in awe. In fact in the car ride home, Gem thought something was wrong cause I hadnt spoke for ages. Anyway, physically the place is incredible. The whole thing is a masterpiece in stone masonry and sculpture. Faces and stories and symbols cover every inch and you could easily spend days finding every detail. The Apprentice Pillar itself is mindblowing. And its true, there are a lot of theories and tales and heaps of hype since it was featured in the Da Vinci Code, but we pay too much attention to all that. In fact I'd be lying if I said I didnt get sometimes angered by the whole thing being used as propaganda for those in power trying to brainwash the masses, or even more angered by the idiots who believe it, but hey, they're rants I have in my head. Losing myself in that way of thinking is a spiral of hatred, so I try and focus on the art. But its not long before I found myself quiet sad at the realisation that such artistry is no longer appreciated in society. That back then, you showed your wealth and taste by surrounding yourself with beautiful works of art, or music, poetry, painting and by those who created it. Yet now to show wealth its just all about the money itself, or the stupid expensive things people buy with it thats only real purpose is so the owner can boast about its pricetag.
And I know the art is still getting created. And its an incredible age we live in where we have access to it like never before, but its just under valued now, at least in longevity. Being the fad based, short attention span audience we are now, how many artists or more so works of art do you think will be relevant in the next 40 years? Anyway, this kind of stuff I think of when I see places like this and what they achieve is giving to me the experience of many different emotions all at once, and I think thats pretty amazing. Overall I found it absolutely exquisite and I'm really happy that I got to see it. It was truly breathtaking.

Oh, and thanks to Scotland for just having amazing weather for us. I heard it always rains there, but that week it was all sunshine and happiness.

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Posted by Clayton30 01:07 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scotland europe 2012 Comments (0)

We Love Edinburgh Castle

sunny 4 °C

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We arrived in Scotland's capital to a procession of bagpipes. Well not exactly, it was some dude busking, but the effect wasn't wasted on us. Anyway, Mel and I fell in love almost immediately with the city, and one of the biggest reasons was Edinburgh Castle. Nestled high on a mountain, looking over the city that's built around it, it could be mistaken for something out of a fairy tale. Scatter around a few hundred or so years old buildings and taking a tour of the castle led by a short proud Scot, and well, we were hooked.

Walking through the entrance, after an awesome walk through daffodils to get there.

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Cannon fodder

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Inside the halls

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Some shots from around the grounds

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And that was our first day, so we were totally overwhelmed with history, craftsmanship and really just a sense of awe. And hey, a bit of whisky tasting up there helped too. But so far Edinburgh just totally blew us away, and we really felt something magical about the place.

And some night shots

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Posted by Clayton30 11:48 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scotland edinburgh europe 2012 Comments (0)

Flashbacks from Stonehenge

Blackening out among the stones and dreaming of lives past

rain 4 °C

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Drums. Thumping. Driving
The rhythm hypnotic
Punching my chest with each beat.

The Druids are circling, chanting
Their melodies entrancing.
I dont recognise the language.
I do feel its power.

Torches of flame spit at the rain
and dance to the drums
Partnered to their shadows on the great stone.

Intoxicated with the aural assault,
I look down at my hands.
They are those of a man much older than I,
and they are stained in blood.

I look past them to the ground.
The dancing flames produce a silhouette
of a warrior, large and wide,
with what appears as a mighty helm of horns.

I search within, search deep to find myself,
and I find its true inhabitant.
But he is waiting also.

With a crack of the sky, the man mountain jolts,
and the vessels true owner has become a passenger also.

Silence suffocates the circle.
The winds howl a warning through the surrounding trees.

Suddenly the body feels electrified.
Alive and pulsing it raises its mighty arms
as if discovering them for the first time.
And on the cue the drums give chase,
this time twice as loud and twice as punishing.

The new inhabitant is a god.
A god of the wood the bodies owner tells me,
and apparently we have been chosen.

I feel the old gods excitement.
I can taste its rampant euphoria.
Its mind swoons,
racing with the riotous pace of the drums.

Through the dark abyss above,
The light of the night mothers eye pierces.
Its illuminous sight fixes upon the centre stone.
And the maiden perched on top of it.

Ink black hair and naked,
for all but a necklace made of crow skulls.
The ancient spirit see her,
just a moment after I.

Then the hunger erupts.
Its longing has laid as a dormant volcano.
For a time of countless moons.
Longing for the touch of flesh.

Too long it had been waiting.
And now, back in human form,
insanity takes over.

And with a herald of drums and wind and flames,
it roars an unholy roar

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Posted by Clayton30 11:02 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged england europe stonehenge 2012 Comments (0)

You sound like you from London!

sunny

Saturday morning we arose energised and ready to go. Our first port of call was Portobello Markets
in Notting Hill. After the awesome people watching safari that is the local bus system, we arrived at the sea of people that marked Portobellos entrance. Mel whimpered with excitement at the book store from the Notting Hill movie, and then we took off into one of the coolest markets I had yet seen, and probably the most crowded.

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Not particularly interested in the first hundred or so metres of antique stalls, it did give me the time to soak up the events atmosphere. Soon enough we were indulging in delicious cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery, watching hyper-colour dressed old women dancing to street performers, browsing through art, fashion and shoe stores (£30 Adidas hi-tops!) and taking in the smells of Belgian waffles and fresh pastries, feeling part of a vibrant, creative and bubbling landscape and feeling privileged to be doing so.

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After spotting an original Bansky on the side of a Falafel King, we took a stroll through a more gritty project type area on the way to our next destination. Piccadilly Square, despite my reservations for its touristy reputation, surprised us with its grandeur and beauty, with its surrounding buildings being a reflection of decadence and old school wealth.

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Onwards through the mass of bodies we weaved and dodged our through to the West End, the theatre district seemingly buzzing with anticipation for fat tourist dollars.
Cutting through Chinatown we made our way to charming little Soho. With its cafes, bars and boutiques, it presented a comparativly tranquil environment compared to the showbiz jungle only a few blocks away. Plus, there was a fantastic little vegetarian place we had lunch at that was absolutely delicious.

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To finish up the day, we took a stroll through the picturesque St James Park toward the Houses of Parliament. As was the case with London in general up to that point, Big Ben and the Houses completely exceeded expectation. The craftsmanship, detail and elegance of the landmark was incredible. I honestly think I could have stood and examined the exterior all day long.

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So then it was time to jump on a coach to Salisbury for the night, as the next day we were scheduled for a sunrise visit of Stonehenge.

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Posted by Clayton30 12:48 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london europe 2012 Comments (0)

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