The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
Blogging break
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Too much to do. Too much to finish off by tomorrow (when I hand computer back *sob*).

BUT: this weekend Munich.

And next week:
2 restaurants to review,
1 dinner to be had with big band of mates,
1 leaving party to hostess,
1 haircut to be had (I heart James - move over George!),
lots of dancing to be done,
n hangovers to dodge,
3 boxes to pack (1 kitchen, 2 bedroom - then it's all. done. yay!),
1 suitcase to freak out about ("it's so heavy!!") right before
1 flight to take.

Without a return ticket.



posted by Nomes @ Thursday, September 20, 2007   3 comments
A girly day is good for the soul!
Sunday, 9 September 2007
I'm not ENTIRELY convinced that the film Planet Terror (part of the Grindhouse double feature) can be considered 'girly' per se, but hell, it was the ultimate finale for a day which included (in no particular order):
  • consuming chocolate
  • debating real estate
  • crying tears
  • reading cards (so damned bright, we're sleeping with shades on from now on)
  • editing photos
  • hunting down restaurants (dagnabbit, those thangs sure do run fast)
  • stretching legs to see if we could reach the shelf above my pillows (ultra dodgy - thank heavens the paparazzi have FINALLY decided to leave me alone - damn them!)
  • sifting through (hopefully) resolved problems
  • sharing makeup
  • talking about boys (verdict: they smell)
Where in the hell's name am I going to find an Kat IN England? *concerned moue*

(I'm gonna eat your brains and steal your knowledge!!)

Labels: ,

posted by Nomes @ Sunday, September 09, 2007   2 comments
Vienna – further East than Prague. Yeah, right! pt III
Friday, 7 September 2007
The Museum of Applied/Contemporary Art was my next stop (conveniently across the road). I looked through it. I got a guided tour by the bored guy in the Oriental carpets section (my upbringing finally paid off, I can pick a Persian rug from 40 paces!) and looked at the Klimts for a glimpse (ha ha) of the ‘masterpiece’. Even “the Lovers”. Impressive, but, I’m just not a fan. Checked out furniture, and textiles and learnt more about blue and white crockery than I ever thought I would. Sat on the comfy couches downstairs and stretched out a bit. Next thing I know, ANOTHER guy in a uniform is waking me up (?!?) and informing me that the museum is closed: could I please leave.

Vienna is obviously my place for being woken by men in uniform. Good to know.

Back to the hostel (via one piece of heart-stoppingly delicious almond cake) to meet my roommates (all male, all less than 22, and all in awe of the fact that I’m a) 30 and b) travelling alone! Ahhh…it’s good!) and play drinking games with them.

Hours later, and I’m up two card tricks (note to self: practice) and one AWESOME drinking game (highly successful), the rules of which I scribbled on a piece of (wet) paper so as not to forget (and promptly soaked everything else in my bag – tasty). To bed, woman: before you regret it in the morning.

But no! Wide eyed and bushy tailed – who was first in line for the tickets for the dancing horses? Then who got to drink a coffee while watching boys in tight trousers, knee high boots, military coats warm up their mounts? Don’t mind if I do.

Standing for 90mins watching horses do weird things isn’t most people’s idea of fun, but it was a little girl fantasy come true for me. But I was unaware of the amount of foaming-at-the-mouth they’d do – that bit wasn’t so pleasant. It only occurred to me what a work-out it must be for the rider when they all took their hats off at the end and were very red in the face. Thus ensued a renewed desire to get into 3d eventing (the list of ‘things to do’ when I get to the UK is getting wieldy!).

A long walk to the prince’s palace of Belvedere put me in exactly the right spot at the right time.
“Hello, my name is Nikolas, I am from Greece, where are you from?”
“Er, hi!” (still channelling Mr Grant)
“I have a lovely restaurant here.”
“Er, yes you do. I’m from New Zealand.”
“in that case, you must have a glass of wine on the house, come this way.”

What followed was a crash course in Greek gastronomy and hospitality (I got given a bottle of WINE for heaven’s sake) with the additional promises to e-mail when I got home, after ‘regretfully’ declining the invitation to stay one more day in Vienna as ‘my guest’.
All I could hear was my mother saying “Tanstaafl, Nomes, Tanstaafl*”. But I escaped the white-trade ring with ease. Mwahahaha. Little did they know my capacity for the red grape juice, and my ability to overcome the conscious-yet-unaware effects of rohypnol**.
A side effect of living in the unhealthy Golden City that finally came in handy.

More photos of a garden and some statues later, accompanied by a small Japanese girl (aren’t they all?) in the grounds of Belvedere and that was it.

The trip home was uneventful (only because I barely managed to restrain myself from stabbing the person across the train aisle from me with the torn edge of the bottle of water he was so noisily drinking from) but eye-opening again. From the train, one doesn’t SEE a border crossing as such. But it was damned obvious when we made it. All of a sudden, things went from ‘well looked after’ and in ‘good condition’ to ‘dilapidated’ and ‘it’ll come down any minute now’. The cars went from ‘hybrid’ to ‘smokers’ and the people went from ‘happy, healthy farming types’ to ‘miserable, ill looking, loiterers’. I’m sure these are generalisations – but that’s all you see at 120kph. It’s such a shame. Prague IS a beautiful city, it just needs a damned good hose down (including the statesmen). Czech Republic COULD be a beautiful country (if, again, they picked up their rubbish, tidied things up a bit, and used more plaster in their plaster than sand). I wish I could say I was glad to get back, but all I could think was: 30 more sleeps.

*There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
** Of course there wasn’t any in the wine. And of course I haven’t used it or had it used upon me in Prague.


posted by Nomes @ Friday, September 07, 2007   0 comments
Vienna – further East than Prague. Yeah, right! pt II
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Getting up so early had clearly addled my brain, and I thought I’d do the same thing the following day, to see the Vienna Boys Choir – those little squeakers. I was marginally disappointed, when I read: having rested (and I guess some of them, matured their way out of the choir) over the July/August summer months – they only start up again mid-Sept. Marginally gutted.

The whole Michaelerplatz area does make you think: “ooh, royal apartments” though. The buildings look kinda like apartment buildings, but it’s all terribly palatial (click on the flickr badge to see photos of the statues that adorn everything). It’s a much more impressive area than our castle in Prague – even if our one is the “largest operating castle in Europe”. Whatever that actually means (I think there must be people running around in scrubs, performing complex surgeries…but I MAY have misconstrued things).

Wandered the streets for hours – took in the Gothic Cathedral in Stephansplatz. Meh. This is where hanging in Prague totally ruins you. As you’ve probably noticed – Prague has become my yardstick for measuring all else. And frankly, St Vitus has WAY more grandeur than St Stephens. It might be the symmetry, or it might be it’s geographical placement within the castle grounds. Whichever. I was a bit “seen one gothic cathedral, seen ‘em all” by this time (hunger struck). Three candles – odd to change the number after all these years.

Found myself a supermarket (ice cream is good for lunch, no?) and a bottle of bubbles and headed off to State Park – the park with the largest number of monuments and sculptures in Vienna. Loads of them are composers whose names did not make into my fragmented musical knowledge. Others (Schubert and Strauss) had such statues that people were (neatly) lining up on one side to have their photos taken in front of them. Tidier than the Warsaw Rising melee from two weeks ago, but just a little weird.

Anyway, this park has wide open green spaces surrounded by lush trees and flowering shrubs – very Garden Force. Due to the “no dogs” signs and the obeying nature of the Austrians, I was in no danger of tripping over or lying in dog poo (hoorah!). I found a green spot, laid out and drank while reading my book, warming my tummy in the sun, texting everyone I knew about how good life was. Happy and warm, I even slept a bit, returning to the sensation of being a normal person on the grass – just as though it were my backyard. Until a dark shadow passed over me. A dark shadow dressed in uniform (this is not going the way of a ‘good dream’!), who said,
“something something something verboeten!”
Austrian sounds angry.
“Er, I’m sorry, um, I’m English.” I stammered – in a VERY good imitation of Hugh Grant.
“English. Verboeten.” (what? the entire language?)
Hmm…I wondered if he knew that verboeten isn’t ACTUALLY an English word.
“Oh, here? Verboeten? Me?” I pointed wildly at the ground, at me, and at the sun.
“Yes. Sorry.”

ARGH!!! Europe! Where you can’t even lie on the grass!

Well, not THIS patch of grass at any rate. THAT patch (about 5m away) was fine. Apparently, I was messing up “Strauss Lawn”. Quite.


posted by Nomes @ Thursday, September 06, 2007   1 comments
Vienna – further East than Prague. Yeah, right! pt I
Monday, 3 September 2007
There’s a pall of illness that sits over Prague, a kind of Chernobyl patina – where people have bendy/bandy legs, their skin is pockmarked and bones are all too visible beneath said skin. Its malnutrition (it’s called a vegetable), mixed with hard living (beer is NOT a breakfast food) and bad choices (your skin does NOT look better after 20 sessions in a ‘solarium’).

Every now and then, I get tired of it. I need to immerse myself in a populace that recognises the value of open windows in a house. So this weekend, I took myself off to Vienna.

(yeah, the hot chocolates were also a massive drawcard)

I started VERY early on Saturday morning. Read: there was no point in going to sleep – as I just spent the little sleep I had waking every 30mins to see if it was ‘time yet’. But I did end up with a compartment to myself. After fashioning a Macgyver style cover for the annoying lamp (that stayed on for the ticket/passport inspectors) I stretched out on one side and slept fitfully to Wien.

The hostel was in a seedy part of town (oh look, I’m back where I started). A 40year old and myself raised the average age to 23. After throwing my backpack into the left luggage room with a small wish and prayer that it’d be there upon my return) I started at Café Central. Apparently famous for people (i.e. Trotsky) talking there and playing chess. No chess boards in evidence on my visit – just overpriced konditori. They DID, however, make a nice club sandwich (almost as good as the Falcon Club) so I’ll forgive them a lot.

Onwards to the centre, and all I could think were “where are all the people?”. I guess Vienna suffers similarly to Prague, crowds of tourists swell and surge through only very few streets. Taking the back streets meant I had the clean white city to myself. The pavements were flag- (rather than cobble-) stoned and clean. The buildings were pristine, even the sides and backs of them (as opposed to merely boasting a freshly plastered façade) and the people I did see didn’t have bandy legs.

Then, it happened - just as it does here. You turn a street corner, and are swept away by the crowd of meanderers. I followed, emitting a ‘baaahh’ every now and again when the ovine urge became too great. But at least we were heading somewhere: Michaelerplatz. Dominated somewhat by a gateway to the Hofburg, and home of the Spanish Riding school amongst other things. The marble statues round the front are all violence and killing - the artist seemingly going through a bit of a Reservoir Dogs period. But even on the church opposite the archaeological dig (but, why!?) there’s an angel with a spear – ready to jab it into a poor soul under his feet.

Painters and vegetarians. Hmmm....


posted by Nomes @ Monday, September 03, 2007   0 comments

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