Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ketchup catchup

Right. Yes, it's been a while, and I do apologise. Turns out that I'm not robotic and jet setting across the globe followed by a hellish trip home, the resulting jet lag and an onslaught of allergies nearly killed me. Almost. So, now that I'm back in the land of the living and settled into Uni somewhat, here I am on my iPad, cranking this out.
Well I can't start something and leave it unfinished so here is the rest of our holiday:
- Last post we had just got to Paris.  Naturally, we thought that we had better drink some wine, especially as we couldn't go anywhere for a short while on account of most of my clothes being beer-soaked.  We promenaded down to the local, and picked up a bottle of Rosé for four euros.  The only issue was that it wasn't cold.  I tried asking the counter guy for ice.  He must have thought we were going to put the ice in the Rosé, cos he brought us a bit in a little bowl (we might have only spent four euros, but we're not animals).  Since I have watched a multitude of Macgyver episodes, I devised a plan.  We had four big cups from the Rangers game.  We also had two little plastic cups in the room.  I poured some wine in the little cup and positioned it in the bigger cup so that it was surrounded by ice and voila!  Chilled wine!  In about twenty minutes.  The next night I figured out how to ask for a wine cooler with ice.  He brought me the wine cooler, with about seven cubes of ice rattling around in the bottom!  Fuckin' bon mate, thanks.
So, we did get around doing the usual touristy stuff in Paris, but this time I knew about Versailles, so off we popped.  If my mind wasn't already blown wide apart by the apparent lack of any sort of road/parking regulations, it certainly exploded when I saw that place.  Let me put it this way: we didn't bother with any more castles and the such on the rest of the trip, cos if it ain't Versailles, it ain't shit.  Here is Kitty and I behind the palace.

The estate grounds go as far as the eye can see.  The whole theme of the place is 'bigness' I reckon.  Everything a royal court would need is there.  If the royal court was comprised of the population of Adelaide.  Opulence Maximoso.  Almost every room in the actual palace looks like this:

Or this:

It is actually hard to take it seriously.  No friggin' wonder people didn't have bread, it's obvious a lotta dough went into making this place (booda-boom tish).  And because the Queeny pants tired of all the to-do and pooh pooh, she had her own little Hamlet made, so she could escape the rat race.  Behold, just one building in the Hamlet:

Poor bugger, what a hard life.  Kat said many times that she wanted to live there.  I was appalled.  I would never want to clean that joint!  I thought that the only thing it would be good for is skating through the whole place and mad parties.  And, as if it isn't haunted!  Gross.  Also, the general floor plan that you follow has each room leading into the next, rather than off a hallway sorta thing.  That has massive awkward potential when you're getting busy or digging out an ingrown hair in your bikini line and the court shoemaker saunters in asking about your instep.  I also spotted this gem:

Good to know they had nasally mouth breathing allergy suffereres like me back then too.
So, that was Paris.  Always lovely.
London was our next stop, eight days.  The abbreviated version goes like this:
  • Monday was rest and washing day.  We met a guy called Joe Pop and Kat bought dresses.
  • Tuesday we went to the Titanic exhibition, they give you a copy of a boarding pass of an actual passenger.  Mine lived, Kat's died, sucky.  We wanted to go to the Observatory at Greenwich, and I asked the bus driver 'Do you go to the Observatory?' he replied 'yes.'  What he meant to say was 'I go to the stop where you get off and walk up to it.'  We were well on our way back to London when I realised the bus did not in fact go there and that assholes can be anywhere, even driving buses.
  • That night we met the London Rocknrollers. Surprise, a bunch of rollergirls that are completely wicked and fun, weird! Their training space is funky, with crazy scaffolding right beside the track so potential for carnage = huge. They don't bout there though. I skated my ass off at their training, it was heaps of fun!
  • Wednesday was Camden town markets, which used to be very punk but is now just full of Asian vendors selling the same shit.  Nonetheless, I found some Banksy stuff I wanted.  Something I didn't want was every Asian selling food to thrust a fork of it in my face as I was walking past whilst yelling 'DARLING! COME HERE DARLING!  COME HERE!  YOU TRY!  TRY IF YOU LIKE!  COME HERE!'  And when I would politely refuse 'no, thank you, I just ate', they still wouldn't give up - 'TRY FOR LATER DARLING!'
  • Thursday we went to the london dungeon (lower case intentional there) which has been 'improved'.  Well, I've never heard of 'improving' something and making it suck balls when it used to be cool.  It used to be scary.  Mitchi and I shit our pants the last time we went and I wondered why my brother laughed at me when I told him the story - he said he thought it was mondo lame.  It is now mondo lame.  There used to be scary looking people walking around there in the dark wearing period costume - this time I saw someone had on a Ramones shirt underneath and one girl had a lip piercing!  That's hardly committing to a role.  Lackluster if I ever saw.  It had a hall of mirrors and (wooOOoo) look out for the mad woman which is just A DUMMY IN A ROCKING CHAIR! 
  • From there we went to the Tower of London (deserving of caps) which was not only informative but pretty cool.  At least the Yeomen look good.  They have some huge-ass armour there too, there used to be some biiiig dudes back then.
  • That night we were supposed to do our Jack the ripper tour.  The concierge told us to wait at Traitor's gate.  After waiting in the drizzle and returning to our hotel most displeased we realised that he probably meant to tell us TraDER's gate shop, so we organised to give it another go the next day.
  • It was worth the wait.  The guy who took us (a self confessed 'Ripperologist') was sooo into it and knew heaps about it.  It was sweet.  He took us to where the bodies were found and told us grisly details.  Turns out that the most likely story is the one depicted in the movie starring the delightful Johnny Depp and Hagrid of Harry Potter fame called 'From Hell'.
  • Saturday we decided to go out and get smashed.  So we did.  We met a couple of guys from Tunisia and drank, danced and ate in a Chinatown restaurant where a prostitute had a very loud argument with an uncomfortable looking man.  Wait, that sounds like we did all that in the restaurant.  We only ate there.  Dancing was elsewhere.
  • Sunday morning we awoke to the sound of the fire alarm at 8:30am.  Since they had conducted a test earlier in the week, I presumed it was so again.  I called the front desk.  No answer.  I got up.  Put on pants.  Kat and I hadn't uttered a word to each other yet, too befuddled.  I put on a sweater.  Kat looked into the hall.  Kat grabbed a room key and left me alone in the room.  I grabbed a room key also (???) and went after her, sans shoes.  As I was padding down the hallway I thought to myself 'I don't have shoes on.  Oh well, I'm sure I won't be the only one, it is an emergency after all.'  Nope.  Everyone else's feet were clad.  There was I, barefoot like a street urchin in a London road, stepping in piss and spit and vomit probably.  Great Sunday morning.  Then when we finally got back to our rooms (without an explanation mind you) we got back into bed to nurse our hangovers some more.  Right as I was on the cusp of sleep, another noise.  I despaired until I realised it was the tv.  It was beeping to let us know we had a message.  The message was 'On behalf of the management, we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding with this morning's emergency.'
  • o_O
  • I actually had neither, so not only was the message not appropriate to me, it woke me up again.
  • Sunday did get better, cos my sister-in-law arrived into town on business.  We had an awesome (and very expensive) Indian meal.  She has an expense account but I already loved her before I knew that so it was just a bonus.  I had one of the highlights of our trip when our taxi driver - a real pom said in answer to a question 'is the Pope a kafflik?' Cross that off my list.
  • Monday was a very big day.  I had lugged around with me the entire trip an engagement ring that I had had made for Kat.  I was waiting for the right time.  We didn't go to Niagara Falls, we didn't go up the Eiffel Tower and I sure as shit wasn't going to ask her in Bahrain, so it was now or never.  Amazingly, the sun was shining, so we decided to give Greenwich another go.  We looked around all up there, then went for a walk, found a park bench with a view of the Thames and London, and right there I made Kat the happiest woman in the world by asking her to marry me.  Wait, is that how that goes?  Anyway, after a considerable pause, I had to say 'soo... is that a yes?' and she squealed and the rest is history.  It was Valentine's day.  It was perfect actually.  Then, that night it officially became the best V-day EVER cos not only did I get engaged to the best chick this side of Mars, we also went to a West End show - We Will Rock You.  It was A-MA-ZING and I actually almost cried just a little bit, I get emotional like that.  I wish Freddie Mercury didn't get aids and die.  Queen rules.
  • Tuesday was Lunch with our Sister-in-law, post our excess shit and fly to Bahrain day.
Bear in mind, we avoided Egypt on account of the riots and general death, but lo and behold, upon our arrival into Bahrain, people had started peacefully demonstrating there too. Turns out that the desire for a higher standard of living and a government that doesn't steal money from its citizens is contagious.  Bahrain is beautiful in spots:

This was the view from our hotel room, which was bigger than our house. We arrived at the hotel about 8:30am, after a sleepless flight all night.  We were in bed by 9, planning to nap since my Brother and Nephew weren't arriving til about 5.  After a few minutes of dozing, I realised that something was tapping repeatedly.  I got up and searched for the source.  In the stairwell right beside our room was a man very slowly sweeping the stairs, it was his broom hitting the wall.  I said 'oh, hi... are you going to be long?'
He stopped, frowned, looked at me then said 'lonely?'
After a second I realised he wasn't propositioning me, but couldn't understand me and was trying to mimic what I said.  I put my hands together, tilted my head to the side on top of the hands, closed my eyes and made snoring sounds and then pointed to his broom and the wall and said 'bang bang' and he got the message.  Bridging the gap, that's me.
After a little nap, we went to the Hotel's little supermarket and I found this, for when you lose too much of your own, I presume:

We were somewhat rested when the boys got there - I was so excited to see them!  We went to a bottle shop, and Kat and I earned some lengthy stares.  She for her beauty, me for my tattoos.  We then went to dinner, got some wicked Tapas and were entertained by an awesome pianist.  The taxi driver was awesome - his grasp of English combined with my Brother's of Arabic made for some entertainment indeed.  When talking politics, he became animated and loud and proclaimed 'I LIKE THE KING!  But he no give me house... he no give me car...' and my Brother said 'yeah... Kings are like that.'  I had forgotten what it was like to be allowed to smoke inside and the next day I awoke stinky.  Ew.
Thursday we wanted to go shopping.  Alas, the riots had put a dampener on everyone's mood and everywhere was shut.  During the night, about 2am, the police had stormed the little camp of the (peaceful) demonstrators, with the aim of nipping it in the bud so it wouldn't escalate to the likes of Cairo.  They killed some people (BBC said 4, locals said 17) and injured more than 200 men, women and children with rubber bullets and tear gas.  They even had to get some police in from Saudi, which is pretty hard core, cos from what I could gather, the Bahraini people dislike Saudi immensely. 
So, instead of shopping, we went to eat and go to a good supermarket my Brother knows that sells good food like maple syrup and stuff they can't get in Saudi.  That was still awesome but hot, as Kat and I wore jeans just to be on the safe side.  While there, we spotted this ad:
I know I like my Daines minitual grade.  That's the only way to go.
Getting back to our hotel was a nightmare.  All the roads were blocked off on account of the riots and raid, so we drove in circles for an hour, past police, tanks and armoured personnel carriers until they opened the roads again.
That night was awesome - we went to a bar and got drunk.  Sounds pretty simple, so I guess you had to be there.  A french guy started traying to talk to my Brother, who can say 'je ne parle pas Français' extremely well - so well in fact that when French people hear him say that in such a marvellous accent, they keep right on talking to him, despite the fact that he just told them he doesn't speak it.  So my cheeky Brother told the guy 'you know my Sister over there can speak fluent French.'  No, I can't.  Nevertheless he then began to bother me.  I didn't care though, I was certainly merry enough for any nationality.  While waiting for our king loving taxi driver to return, Kat found a local cat (naturally) and then pined for it after it left - 'oh! It was so tiny!  I wanna take care of it...' etc.
The next day we had to leave, sad but true, and we actually did manage a little bit of shopping.  At the airport I had an argument with a fully clad arabic woman who clearly thought that she could push in front of me and that I would see her in all her black robe glory and be humbled.  Nope.  We fought it out and I  won.  Push in front of me, will ya?  Once inside the airport, I thought to myself  'You know, what would be nice is to have some perfume actually made here as a souvenir.  I bet they make nice ones.'  Hm.  So I went to a shop and the lady wanted to spray some on me.  I politely refused and asked her to put it on some card instead so I could test it first.  It seemed ok, so I ventured to put a little on my writst.  The first notes were floral, a little spicy, then it ended with a lingering scent of poo and body odour.  It was horrid.  I plastered my face with a panicked smile, edged out of the shop and scurried to the toilet to wash my arm.  I scrubbed til it was an angry red colour.  I returned to kat, peacefully sipping a coffee and as I sat down, she asked 'what's that smell?'  ohhh... it's going to be a loooong trip...
Ok, really, that's way long enough.  I got really sick when we got home, so I was absent but no longer!  I shall report on this Sunday's bout next week!

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