A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: steff

Melbourne_the world's most livable city?!?

semi-overcast 15 °C

I know it's been a while since I last had the chance to share my thoughts and experiences with you, but life has just kept me busy for the past weeks.
I finally arrived here in Melbourne on Feb. 16th, and already the flight was hilarious as I was sitting next to this 18 year-old Northern Irish girl from a family of 16 siblings who had never been on a plane before and kept on asking me all sorts of different questions...so I can watch telly here and listen to music...and order drinks for free??? (She would then ask the stewardess for a smirnoff ice. Bless her !).
My arrival in Melbourne was pretty smooth. I got picked up by a Melbourne uni shuttle service at 6 am which dropped me off at a friend's place in the outer suburbs. There I quickly had a shower and went straight to uni orientation which started at 9 am. Have to admit I was in my own jet-lag world for the whole day, but luckily orientation went on for another week.

Friday I then started with the house hunting, I just couldn't sit still and felt this urge to get out there and look for my special place to start life in Melbourne. Already a day later after having seen a couple of terrible flats/houses I had an appointment with Greg and Ben at their house in Fitzroy and immediately felt in love with the place. It's a lightfilled 4-bedroom victorian house with terrace and backyard and I still can't believe how lucky I am that the guys told me I could move in a day later.Fitzroy also seems to be a very arty suburb. There's lots of funky small shops and tons of cafés on closeby Brunswick Street.

My lovely housemates have also organized me a bike and helmet (everybody has to wear them here so at least I'm not the only one looking stupid;)) and within ten minutes I can cycle to Uni or the city centre. How cool is that?!

Uni is fun too. The system here is quite different to what I'm used to at European universities, much more organized and they are definitely taking good care of their international students. During the first week they would have a free barbecue (aka barbie ;)) on Uni campus almost every day and we got lots of other goodies.

Meanwhile I have started with my classes and will be taking two in Aboriginal studies, one in advanced photography (need to decorate my new room) and one Spanish class (have to practice or I will forget)
I also became a member of the Melbourne Uni Underwater Club and will finally go diving again. Can't wait .
The funniest club I joined is the Lunch Club it consists of people who like good food and like to check out a new restaurant for lunch every two weeks. Yummy food and meeting new people sounds like a good combination to me.

And on the weekend I went to the the beach in Brighton and was enjoying a beautiful day in the sun. Sunday a few other International students and I organized our own Barbie in the park and I got to play some American footbal, Indian cricket and German soccer . Later in the afternoon we went to a street festival with lots of stages and different kind of bands. So far Melbourne rocks big time!

Posted by steff 00:00 Comments (0)

In love with Andalucía

One week road trip around the South of Spain

sunny 17 °C

It all started with instead of driving down to the South of Spain with my flatmates car, we had to sort out another way of getting around, because Nuria´s good ol´ Diego didn´t pass the technical inspection two days before we were planning to head off.

On Sunday, the 4th we (Nuria, a friend of mine visiting from Germany and my Norwegian friend Unni) headed down to Cordoba and as soon as we got there had fallen in love with the city. It was full of trees with green leaves and oranges. This doesn´t sound very spectacular, but I was really impressed to see real orange trees in the middle of winter. Unfortunately you can´t eat the oranges though.

The city of Cordoba has an amazing history and one incredible monument, the Mezquita. The former Mosque is the 3rd largest in the world and you probably can't imagine, but after the conquest, the Christians built a cathedral in the middle of the large complex, so now it is like two temples in one.
Apart from that, the Old Jewish quarter of town is definitely worth a visit and we stopped walking a hundred times to have a look at Cordoba's beautiful patios.

From Cordoba Unni and I headed on to Seville, another gem in the South of Spain, though way more touristy. I still can´t get over the perfect weather we had (18 degrees on a winters day in Europe!) and we were very lucky as Nuria's brother knows lots about the city and kind of played our tourguide for the day.
In Seville I also noticed that people in Andalucía generally seem to be a lot friendlier than for example people in Madrid. Is it the sunny weather that makes such a difference?

On thursday we moved on and visited a friend of mine in Cádiz. I hadn't been to the ocean in a while and therefore thorouhgly enjoyed spending a day on the beach. The water was too freezing to convince me to go swimming...
Cádiz is a rather small and relaxed city and by chance I bumped into a girl who I know from uni in Berlin. Just another example of how small the world is.

As we didn´t want to spend six hours on a bus getting from Cádiz to Granada in one day Unni and I decided to spent a night in Ronda, a tiny village in the Andalucian mountains. Already the journey to get there was great, we were the only (above all blonde) foreigners on a bus with lovely, old folks just hopping on the bus to get from one village to the next. Unni and I spent hours listening and chating to them (Andalucians have the funniest Spanish accent) and watching the beautiful landscape outside the bus.
When we finally reached Ronda it had already gotten dark, but I didn´t want to leave the place without having seen at least a bit of it in daylight.
To achieve this goal, I, who definitely isn't a morning person got up at 7 am the next morning to go for an early walk before catching the train to Granada. Unni, warm and cozy in bed had declared me nuts, but I loved walking around the deserted village, watching a beautiful sunrise over the Tajo river. Sometimes it's worth to sacrifice a good nights sleep.

Saturday afternoon we arrived in Granada and Unni had decided she didn't want to visit the Alhambra a second time. We then agreed I would try to sell her ticket and call her on the mobile when I would get back to town as we only had one set of keys for the hostel.

The amount of people lining up to buy a ticket for the Alhambra was outrageous and I would definitely recommend anybody to get them in advance over the Internet or any BBVA Bank branch throughout Spain.

With my 2 tickets in the hand I was now looking for a desperate single person who didn´t want to wait much longer and rather wanted to buy one of me. It happened to be this nice guy and we spent a great day visiting the stunning Alhambra together. And the craziest thing is that he´s an Aussie from Melbourne, where I will be going to live and study in February. He will still be travelling around Europe then, but we will definitely meet up again when he returns home.

Back in the city center I tried to call Unni, but she wouldn't pick up her phone nor answer my textmessages. 45 minutes later, when it was pitchblack and getting quite cold I was getting a bit nervous as the hostel also wouldn´t open the frontdoor for me as it said on a sign it was full.
1 hour and 30 minutes later (I had meanwhile called the hostel and nobody picked up the phone) I was getting a bit more than nervous (I mean close to freakin out) when finally somebody answer Unni´s phone. No, it wasn´t her it was the Lady from the hostel where we stayed in Ronda, telling me Unni had forgotten her phone. And of course she only had my number saved in her phone.
At this point I couldn´t decide whether to start crying or yelling, so I went to the next pub to warm up and come up with a great idea how to get in touch with her.
A few drinks later I had the perfect plan to leave a note with my phonenumber at the front door for her, hoping she would see it at some point.
Finally 3 hours later, me being a bit tipsy then and she being really sorry it all worked out and moral of the story is, always ask for two set of keys in a hostel or don't forget your mobile in a hostel, or not only save your friend´s phone numbers on the mobile...

Hope to get a chance soon to upload some pictures of the trip, so you can also get a visual impression of what´s Andalucia is like.

I absolutely loved it ;)

Posted by steff 09:14 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The world upside down

Where am I?

snow 4 °C

It has been snowing. No worries, I haven’t moved to Siberia meanwhile, I simply went to Salamanca for the weekend and it snowed. The world is upside down, people at home are telling me there are still more than 10 degrees and I’m here in Spain and winter has broken out. And this in November!!!
It all started last week when the temperature droped by ten degrees, but this even convinced my ironmade flatmate to start heating (well the heater is a bit dodgy as it is from the 50s, but at least I’m not freezing.)
Besides going to university, I have meanwhile started to teach English three times a week and after the first class I have realized that this is definitely not the job I’m made for. I’m teaching four completely non-interested students between 14 and 17 whose level of English is worse than you could imagine. I would have never thought the Spanish education system was that bad, but they just don’t have a clue, I´m sorry...
Working in a bar would have probably been less frustrating and more fun, but would also mean sacrificing my evenings/nights. And missing out on the nightlife in Spain would certainly be a pity.
I also couldn’t travel on the weekends; like I did last weekend. Six other girls and I went to Salamanca (2,5 hours northeast of Madrid), which apart from the chilly weather is a really nice city. Saw lots of historical, old buildings and it’s also known for being a student city. Have to admit though that I liked being there for the weekend, but at the moment couldn’t see myself living in a small place. Maybe, by the ocean, will see. That’s about the news with me. Attached a couple of new pics in my photo gallery so you get a visual idea of what I´m up to.

Posted by steff 07:27 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Basque country and Flamenco dancing


overcast 18 °C

University has started meanwhile and I got a couple of interesting
classes in Arts History and Latin American studies, but it isn´t
always easy to understand the professors speaking or mumbling really fast spanish.

I also had my first temporal job a couple of days ago, which was
working as a translator/hostess for a group of 35 Austrians. It
was grant, but not exactly what I would like to do for the rest
of my life...

But now to the fun stuff. My dear Maren was here to visit and
apart from spending a fab time in Madrid, we drove up to the
Basque country to spend a weekend in Oñati (the village where
one of my flatmates is from) and also San Sebastian.

All of you who told me San Sebastian is awesome you were
right, we absolutely loved it! Not only it is by the sea (just can´t get enough of it), but also walking around the historic part of the city with all its Tapa bars and narrow streets was very cool.

Maren and I were also extremly lucky as we hadn´t booked
accomodation in advance, but found a lovely and fairly cheap
hostel in the centre of town at 7 pm on the Saturday night (so in case you need a recommendation, let me know)!
Not to mention that we had parked my flatmates car
all day with out paying for a parking ticket (honestly, we didn´t know) and when we got back to it, to get our backpacks only the French car in front of us had been fined...

Since Maren left I have sort of slightly slipped into a daily
life routine, it´s amazing how soon and easy you adapt to life
in another country.
As I always liked taking part in the culture life of the country
I live in, I have meanwhile started a Flamenco course, which is
absolutely hilarious! I have no clue what I´m doing, but the
teacher finds it great to have a blonde, German student for a
change. She also told me I should give a performance on my
friend´s future weddings after returning home. So be aware with
the invitations ;).

P.S.: Can´t wait to get my laptop (next week finally!) back to share some new pics with you!

Posted by steff 08:36 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Dancing in the rain and sunshine

sunny 27 °C

It´s been another week in the city that never sleeps. I have moved to my new appartment and I´m glad I finally have a home and too lovely flatmates (Nuria a girl from Barcelona and Patxi a guy from the Basque country). I find it great that I´m living with Spaniards, not only does it guarantee that I will improve my language skills, but I´ll also have the chance to travel around the country with them ;) Next weekend e.g. we are going to spend the weekend at Patxi´s parents place near San Sebastian. Can´t wait to go it´s meant to be fantastic. And tomorrow my best friend from Germany is coming to visit for a week, I´m totally looking forward to her stay (hopefully she can also help me to fix my stupid laptop...).

The past week I have also started to look for a job, a friend of mine helped me to translate my C.V., but I have to get a social insurance number here which seems to be a bit complicated ( I always thought there was a lot of burocracy in Germany, but this proves me wrong). First I had to get registered here, then apply for the insurance number and when I eventually get it I have to go to the police station and get registered a second time...and all this for working part-time as a waitress...Bye the way I almost ended up helping kids with their homework in Maths and Physics. I know for those of you who know me this sounds like a joke and it really is, but the pay would have been great and as it was in German I thought I´d give it a try. Still can´t understand why the parents in the end prefered a guy with a degree in Maths...

The last weekend also has been great. On Friday night I first was at my friend´s place for a dinner party they had arranged for a friend, and I probably never have had dinner later then here. When I got to Blanca´s place around 9 I though I was really late, but finally we started eating around 11 and had dessert around 1 in the morning.
Dancing the night away was a must after that.

Saturday, Blanca took me to another friend´s farewell which was amazing because her stepdad is the grandchild of some famous Spanish doctor called Grigorio Marañon and the party was at his former finca in the outskirts of Toledo. The place was stunning with views over the city. It used to be a monastry hundred of years ago and today they still maintain a chapel and the doctor´s library (there I got to read a letter to the doc by Marie Curie!!!). Too bad I can´t upload any pictures at the moment...
Anyway, we first had a barbecue by the swimming pool and then continued the "fiesta" in the house. The hospitality of the people here is definitely amazing.

Unfortunately I also have to mention that I have repeadtedly heard of people who have been robbed here (including my flatmate whose purse was stolen at the train station this saturday), so it seems like people have to take more care of their stuff then in other cities. My flatmate actually couldn´t believe that I´ve never been robbed in my whole life (touch wood).

Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon relaxing in the "Retiro", the main park in the city. I was great to read the sunday paper in the sun and in the early evenings they have drum sessions with lots of players. When we just about sat down to listen to them, it started raining cats and dogs, but, yes but while the sun was still shining. It was totally surreal, or has anybody else ever experienced sun and rain at the same time??? I wasn´t aware this was possible!!!

Posted by steff 04:12 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

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