Category Archives: Travel

Shit I Learned In Scotland

In the glorious half term from school I decided that it was about time I ventured up to Scotland to see what it was all about. Not only was it full of stunning natural beauty, but also full of fun and fascinating stories of the past. I learned  more than wee bit of shit while I was there, but here are some highlights.

  1. Loads of different sayings take their origins from the Scots

‘Shitfaced’

Back in the days, Edinburgh was full of high-rise buildings. Of course, being in the days before toilets, people used to just chuck that shit out the window. Literally. If you were in the lower floors and had your head stuck out the window you risked getting shat on. So they would yell out before the bucket load of crap went flying out the window and if you didn’t get your head in quick enough, guess where it landed. They say that those who were drunk were dumb enough to hear the call of pending doom and instead of pulling their heads in, they would look up. And wind up with shit on their faces. Shitfaced. Superb!

City views over Edinburgh

‘Doing a Bouch job’

Thomas Bouch was an English engineer who built a bridge that wasn’t structurally sound, it fell down and killed a whole stack of people. What a massive fuck up! A total Bouch job

‘Soccer’

As much as the English and Europeans love to moan about the fact that we call it ‘soccer’ in Australia, it is in fact their fault. They bloody well invented the word. It derives from the full name of the sport from back in the day ‘association football’. Abbreviation of the name and tapping and ‘er’ on the end (oddly a very Australian thing to do… maybe that is where we get it from) results in the word ‘assoccer’.

‘Going berserk’

The Beserkers were a Viking clan full of fierce warriors who apparently fought in such a massively drug fucked stated that people thought that they were crazy. As such, when people go crazy now, they are going berserk.

Stone circle from Lewis and Harris

2. Seagulls can drool.

I mean, I had no idea until I was sitting on the pier with what has been voted the worlds best fish and chips and this damn seagull is sitting in front of me and his beak is literally dripping all over the pavement. He stopped once the fish was gone and I got to the chips. Clearly not as tasty…. but just wow…..

3. Witches don’t drown in shit.

So the river that used to run through Edinburgh used to be full of people’s shit that they used to just pour in there. When they accused people of being witches, they used to throw them in the river and say that if they didn’t sink and drown that they must be a witch. Well given the viscosity of a pile of faecal matter, most of them really didn’t sink. So they’d drag them out and burn them on the stake. That right there is logic for you. Even better, they cleared all of the shit out of this area and turned it into a nice lovely park full of green plants and wonderful flowers fertilised by the remnant bits of shit and dead witches from the area. One may even say that when sitting down there having lunch that you are hanging in the shit pit.

The old shit pit is now a park….

4.  Braveheart the movie is an absolute load of shit and things really didn’t happen that way at all. 

  • Firstly, the ‘brave heart’ actually referred to the heart of Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace. Robert’s heart was carried into the battle that won the Scots independence after his death.
  • The Battle of Sterling win hinged on the fact that there was a bridge that the English had to cross and were eventually backed into a corner of the river bend and couldn’t retreat. Where’s the bridge?
  • Bruce did not betray Wallace and get him captured
  • ugh…. and the list could go on… very entertaining fiction for the most part.

5. Other random shit

  • The word Caledonia is what the Romans used to call Scotland
  • Fife is the alcohol and oddly enough, pregnancy capital of Scotland being home to the bottling of Schmirnoff, Barcardi and Johnny Walker
  • Half Hangit Maggie was a legend for surviving a hanging and waking up in the coffin on her way down the road to be put in the ground. She kicked on for another 40 years post that….
  • Greyfriars Bobby is also a legend. He was a dog that sat by his masters grave for the better part of 15 years, his love and loyalty never faltered.
Cute little Greyfriars Bobby
  • I still don’t like oysters…. the slimy thing went down and some shell got stuck on the roof of my mouth and gag reflex kicked in… yuk. Just feed me a kilo of mussels instead any day.
  • Stone circles are everywhere up north in Lewis and Harris. I daresay they are cooler than Stonehenge and…. free!
  • And…. I want to go back to Scotland! This country is amazing and the nature is just stunning. I want to go back and climb more mountains and take some more boat trips!

 

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Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 2

As a continuation of the journey I spent travelling around Iceland in a camper with a friend, we have now made it to the south. If you missed the first half, check out Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 1.

Day 4 – Hofn to Dyrrholaey

This day was one of the most impressive days I have ever spent travelling for a number of reasons. It was such a diverse day and it presented itself with things I had never seen before, namely my very first iceberg. We drove straight to Jokulsarlon in the morning and got our tickets to go for a boat ride on the glacier lake with floating icebergs in it. I absolutely loved it! It was so cool driving around these massive chunks of ice that don’t even look like ice at times. The boat ride was over too quickly but at the same time, we had loads still to do for the day.

Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon

From here we drove on to Skaftafell National Park and went on a hike to some very cool waterfalls that had rock formations unlike anything I had ever seen.

Skaftafell waterfall

We continued to drive on through the world’s largest black sand desert with all of the massive chunks of rocks strewn across the landscape until we hit Dyrrholaey. I was obsessed with getting here because all I wanted to do while I was there was see a puffin. And I did! It was really cool to see them on the headland but I was so cold and so tired that I figured I would go sleep and see them in the morning and when I got up they weren’t there anymore. My friend thinks this is hilarious and will not let me forget it.

The lone puffin on the head

Day 5 – Dyrrholaey to Fludir

And so we drove on with the impressive glaciers in the background. We continued our way through to Skogafoss, which was a massive waterfall that you could walk behind and got soaked. Then we drove on to catch the ferry to the Westmann Islands.

Skogafoss

The Westmann Islands are incredibly active volcanically and in 1973 there was a massive eruption that resulted in an entirely new mountain being formed on the island. Lava spat out of this new crater for months, destroying and burying houses that can still be seen in the museum and the entire island was evacuated. Thankfully, nobody died and people have since moved back to the island but the entire thought of it was super scary.

Vestmannajyer – The Westmann Islands

After taking the ferry back to the main island, we then continued to drive towards Fludir where we got a rest in for the evening.

Day 6 – Fludir to Reykjavik

This day was to be dedicated to doing the famous Golden Circle. We started by making our way up to see Gulfoss, one of the most famous waterfalls on the island.

Gullfoss

We then drove through to see the massive geyser. It took a little while to wait for it to erupt but it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Geysir

The event of the day however was the Thingvellir National Park. We spent some time wandering the fault line here and exploring the region before we headed down to do something that is still one of the coolest things I have ever done. We got into our dry suits, then we got into two degree water that was runoff from a glacier, and then we snorkelled between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe.

Snorkelling the Silfra – between the tectonic plates

After all of the excitement and getting a little bit sunburnt, we continued our drive back to Reykjavik where we parked overnight in a playground to get the car ready to return in the morning. Whirlwind romance with Iceland was over.

Day 7 – Reykjavik

I spent one last day of sightseeing in Reykjavik before I had to return back to work. While I was wandering around I went and saw the famous church, and of course ate a dirty hotdog that Iceland is so famous for. I also took a free walking tour and learned about the parliament and other histories of the country that were super interesting.

Hallsgrimskirkja church

Iceland is one of my favourite countries in the world. I love the people and I love the incredible diversity of the nature that you find here. I cannot recommend coming here enough and hopefully this gives you an idea of the things to see and how to do it!

Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 1

It is the year anniversary of me going to Iceland as I write this and it is still one of my favourite countries for natural beauty. It truly is wild, rugged and stunning. My friend and I hired a camper van out of Reykjavik and because I had a luggage limit I bought about 20kg of noodles and tins of food with me from the Lidl Supermarket in London as I knew food was going to be expensive. We got our van, and equipped with a map and about 22 hours of daylight every single day we started driving north. Iceland still proves to be one of my favourite countries in the world for its’ sheer natural beauty. If ever you get a chance to go, you definitely should! Here is what my friend and I got up to in that week.

Day 1 – Reykjavik to Oxnadalur

After picking up the car in Reykjavik and getting equipped with some fuel for the stove, we drove north and despite getting semi lost on the way up, we eventually found our way out of the city, over the wrong bridge and on our way. We stopped in to see the Glymur waterfall and dropped in at Deildartunguhver, the worlds most powerful hotspring. We then drove via Reykholt and stopped in on a historical center before checking out the Barnafoss waterfall. These falls were impressive and we walked around for an hour or so taking pictures and checking them out.

Barnafoss

Our last major stop for the day was at the Grabrok lava fields and craters, which were again, super cool. After there wasn’t too much in the way of things to see for the next couple of hours so we continued to drive towards Akureyri until we got tired.

Grabrok Crater and Lava Fields

As we came up over this hill, there were some amazing views of the mountains so we parked the van in a carpark, ate some dinner and crashed out for the night to the stunning views of Oxnadalur, which don’t of course disappear when the sun doesn’t go down.

The van camped at Oxnadalur

Day 2 – Oxnadalur to Jokulsa a Dal

We made our way to the larger town of Akureyri in the north and stopped in for a while and had a drink in a coffee shop. We wandered the streets checking out the quaint fishing village before we drove on through to the Godafoss waterfalls, and on to Namafjell and Jardbodin where they had some awesome geothermal mud pits and springs.

Namafjell

We decided that since it was bath time we should stop in the springs and swim about for a bit. They were so nice and warm and had incredible views. It was such an amazing experience. And after the bath we continued to drive on.  We arrived at this place called the Viti Crater which means hell in Icelandic. It was cold, but absolutely stunning, and oddly frozen over.

Viti Crater

We tried to head north to see Detifoss waterfall however we got stuck in a fog and decided that this wasn’t the safest path to take so we turned around and continued our way east along the ring road. We parked the car somewhere around Jokulsa a Dal and had another sleep in the bright lights of constant sun.

Day 3 – Jokulsa a Dal to Hofn

We drove on through towards Seydisfjordur, down the stunning winding roads before the coast and spent some time hanging out in the port town. On the way back up, there was a really cool waterfall, Gufufoss and we stuffed around for a while taking pictures of ourselves in our Cinderella and Dora the Explorer masks that came along for the ride with us.

Gufufoss

As we continued along the winding road we stopped in a town called Djupivogur where they had massive whale bones on display and some really cool things in one of the garden shops there. We explored these some more before making our way to Hofn where we camped on the side of the road for the night.

Whale bones at Djupivogur

While we drove most of the north super quickly, I did really enjoy the time I spent up here. It was a really cool start to the journey…. but all of the things that we were both super excited about were in the south and we were yet to get there…

To see what we did in the south, check out Part 2 next time!

Shit I Learned In Bulgaria

This was quite a while ago and as such it is pushing my memory to remember what half of the cryptic notes I took about Bulgaria even mean… but here’s the decipher! Enjoy!

  • The word ‘lev’ in Bulgarian means ‘lion’. You can see that this is the national symbol of the country because lions are literally everywhere and the currency is called the ‘lev’.
Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral
  • In the times of Constantine the Great, the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, was actually called Serdika.  This was one of Constantine’s favourite cities in the Roman empire and was the gateway to Constantinople, now Istanbul.
  • You can find churches in Bulgaria that have amazing frescoes from years 1000 and 1300. They are amazing and some of the best preserved in the world.
Frescoes inside of the Boyana Church
  • Bulgarians are terrible with giving you directions on how to get somewhere. The locals joke and say as a tourist the only solid directions you will ever receive are for the destinations of either vodka or the beach. A couple of people I met in the hostel and I decided to try out our luck with getting to Seven Lakes on public transport. After much research and confusion, we finally made it there for the spectacular hiking and views.
The hazy views over Seven Lakes
  • During World War 2, the Bulgarian government was smart enough to save it’s Jews from Hitler’s regime by telling the Nazi’s that they needed the Jews to do labour work on the railroad construction.
  • The city of Plovdiv lies abound seven different hills.
  • There are huge numbers of incredible Roman stadiums and ruins throughout the country, and are home to some of the most incredibly well preserved ruins. One of the world’s largest stadiums lies underneath the main shopping street of Plovdiv.
The end of the Roman Amphitheatre in Plovdiv
  • They have a tradition of tying these red and white, handmade dolls called Martenitsa from blossoming trees as ritual to denote the arrival of spring.

Other than that I really can’t remember that much more shit from Bulgaria other than I really loved it. The people were friendly, the scenery was gorgeous and the history wonderful! Cannot recommend visiting this beautiful country enough!

Shit I Learned In Cornwall

For the bank holiday weekend, my friends and I hired a car and drove west to Cornwall for the weekend. I never actually thought that I would make it down that way however I am excited to say that we had an amazing time. And of course, because it is what I do, I learned some interesting shit. So here is the shit that I learned in Cornwall…..

The fabulous Cornish Pasty

Pasty’s were invented in Cornwall as a useful way for the miners that were working on the west coast to carry a hot meal with them that was filling. The pastry would act as an insulator for the hot meat and potato filling to keep it warm for a few hours. The crinkle part of the pasty was made so that the miners had a part of the pastry to hold and eat the hot contents from. Given that the miners would have trace elements of heavy metals and arsenic on their hands, they would throw this part away and not eat it. It was designed as a place to hold to eat and not for eating. Speaking also of pasty’s, we ate so many of them. The best ones are from Philp’s.

Munching down on a pasty outside Philp’s

When I grow up I am going to become a 70 year old nana in a choir

Whilst down in Cornwall we went to visit the Minack Theatre which is a giant, Roman style amphitheatre that was created by one woman in and around world war 2. There was a choir of 70 year olds there preparing for their performance that night. I will never forget the dancing of the people and the grooving of the nana’s as they sang Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’. I have decided that this is what I want to do.

Chilling out watching the choir rehearse with stunning ocean views at the Minack

I’m clearly out of touch

Whilst driving down the road I spent a lot of time listening to the radio. I had no idea about any of the songs on the radio. So I learned the words to loads of those. Not only that, but I also learned a few other words of interesting definition:

Kleptopenia – a person who picks up other people’s pens and walks off with them. This is me. I have kleptopenia. Pens fucking everywhere.

Neglext – the art of ignoring the person you are supposed to be chatting with because you are too busy sending text messages to someone else.

Voluntold – when you get told you are volunteering for something but it isn’t really volunteering, it is more like being told.

Marconi tested his radio’s at Lizard Point.

Nuff said really. Pretty damn cool.

The coastline at Lizard Point

My home town was named after a place in Cornwall.

I grew up in a town called Launceston. We pronounced it ‘Lon-ces-ton’. The Cornish folk like to call it ‘Lawns-ton’. Their Launceston has a castle on a hill for a view. We have Myer 7th floor. They have a river Tamar. We have one too. They have a Tamar Bridge. We have a Batman Bridge that goes over the Tamar. We both have town halls, but theirs is older and cooler looking as it has medieval style. I am quite impressed with all of this. Our Launceston is bigger, but they are still both quite pretty towns.

You can call me the Queen of the Castle, the Launceston Castle!

Cornish Seagulls are HUGE

I mean seriously huge. They look like no neck rugby players of the gull world and the greedy fuckers sit around and glare at you while you eat. One said gull even tried to rip the  wing off of another gull in our presence and there was blood and gore everywhere. But luckily not on my pasty.

People walking from one end of the UK to the other is more common than one would think.

The route from Land’s End in Cornwall to Dan O’Groot’s in northern Scotland has been walked by quite a large number of people. Considering that this is 947 miles this is a huge achievement and one I think I will pass.

The Land’s End sign at the eastern most point of England.

Cornwall is such a stunningly beautiful place to visit with so much to see and do. You will need way more than the three days that we had to navigate our way around and see everything. Honestly you would probably need a couple of weeks. Just get fuelled up and away you go!

 

 

What I Reckon: Bullfighting in Spain

Last year when I visited Spain I found myself in Seville at a special time of year for the locals. I found myself there during the bullfighting time. Many people told me this is a vulgar and awful practice. Many of the locals defended it saying that it is not a disgusting thing and that there is a lot of respect for the animal and that it isn’t cruel. Not being one to back down from things that are confronting, I weighed up whether I should or shouldn’t and decided that an informed decision was better than an uninformed decision and that I wanted to go and experience it for myself and make up my own mind.

Admitting this to people was a rather difficult thing. Some of my friends abused me for doing it because they felt I was supporting maltreatment of animals, others were not really understanding of why it is that I would want to go there to begin with. But as they say, when in Rome, and so I went. With reservation, but I went.

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The parading at the beginning before the fighting begins

I found myself sitting in the ring next to a couple of people that spoke enough English to be able to explain some of the things that were going on to me. Between this and the information that I learned from the museums I visited up until that point I could figure out what was going on.

I could imagine that the whole affair resembled a similar scene to that of the Roman Gladiators. There was a lot of pomp and circumstance with brass bands playing loud music and horses parading around. Each matador gets to fight 2 bulls each over the space of the evening. There are generally 3 matadors per bullfight.

So the bull enters the ring. The matador waves the cape and assesses the bull for aggression. After that they get the guys on the horse to come out and they lance the bull in the neck while the bull locks its horns into the side of the horse. For the first bullfight I ever watched, the bull actually knocked the horse over and the bullfighters assistants had to go in and distract the bull to get the horse safely up.

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2 of the horses in the initial proceedings

After they have checked out the bull with the horses, the matador’s assistants go in to face the bull. They have these pom pom like sticks that are decorated in streamer type material with sharp ends on them called banderillas. The aim of these is to weaken the muscles around the bulls neck and to agitate it. After they have had a go sticking about four rounds of these things into the bulls neck, in which the bull is now bleeding enough to see, the final stage begins.

The matador enters the ring to face the bull alone with his cape and a sword. He hides the sword under the cape and uses the cape to assess how the bull is moving and the kinds of passes the bull makes. After a few passes, the matador drives the sword into the neck of the bull. If done correctly, the bull will usually sit down within the space of 30 seconds and the matador’s helpers will come out and sever the spinal cord so that the animal doesn’t suffer anymore.

The first bull I watched was excruciating. The matador missed where he was supposed to put the sword. It took three passes and three swords through the neck for the bull to go down and it made me cringe every time. This part of bullfighting is most awful. The thing that I did find utmost heartbreaking though was the utter confusion of the bull in the ring for the ten minutes it is there to fight for its death. Sometimes the bulls look around and don’t want to fight. Sometimes they are so confused about what is happening you can actually read the confusion on their faces. Sometimes they get angry and they just charge and charge and charge. Despite making the decision to go here, I cannot say that I really enjoyed it. However I did now feel that I could make an educated opinion on what I felt about bullfighting. And my decision was that it is in many ways barbaric and cruel. At the same time I cannot say that it is any better in abattoirs where they slaughter animals for food. The entire thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

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The matador with cape and sword preparing to kill the bull

One thing I will say is that despite killing them, the matadors seem to have a great love for the animals. Despite meeting a horrid death, these animals are kept in really good environments with good standards while they are alive. They are well cared for. And their deaths also do not go in vain. Every bull gets sent to the butcher and used for meat. Many of the restaurants in Seville have bull meat on the menu during the bullfighting season. In this sense I have respect for the process. However I don’t think I will be going again. I just don’t think I could stomach any more of it and call it entertainment. Best leave me to a chick flick or something less morbid. But if the movie boys could wear pants like those of the matadors, that would be great. Their butts look hot in those things!

 

The Worlds Wackiest Museums


I’ve travelled about quite a lot and at the time of writing I have hit about 54 different countries. During this time I have done a whole speight of museums and some of them have been just downright odd. So here are just a few of the world’s wackiest museums that I myself have been to.

Devils Museum – Kaunas, Lithuania

This entire museum is dedicated to one man’s collection of devil statues. There are devil masks, devils fornicating, devils drinking vodka,  devils of all nationalities, paintings of devils… you get the idea. So many devils, but it is quite an interesting visit.

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The devil pouring vodka down the throat of a clearly unwilling participant…. in Australia we call this ‘helping out a friend’

Natural History Museum – Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala

This museum should really be renamed “The Museum of Shit Taxidermy”. I nearly made my mother cry sending her a picture of two taxidermied budgerigars that looked proper retarded. If you have a totally sick humour however and are keen to check out some really weird looking animals, then this is a very cheap and entertaining way to spend an afternoon. They’ve even managed to make some of them look like hybrids of other animals or incorporated cardboard into the bodies…..

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These birds are just so pretty,,,,
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Check the eyes on this one….

Museum of Broken Relationships – Zagreb, Croatia

This museum is basically a giant collection of memorabilia from relationships around the world that have gone wrong, whether it be romantic or otherwise. I think my personal favourites are the ‘toaster of vengeance’ (basically the chick got pissed with the guy and stole his toaster), the caterpillar and the shoe from the prostitute.  The caterpillar was a symbol of a long standing relationship between two people who used to pull a leg off the caterpillar every time the saw each other. When the caterpillar became legless they were to move to the same place. This didn’t happen however. The caterpillar isn’t a total cripple and still has a few legs left.

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The semi crippled caterpillar of a fully crippled relationship

The Corn Palace – Mitchell, South Dakota, USA

Who the hell decorates an entire museum building with corn and dedicates an entire museum to shit made out of corn….?? The Americans, that’s who! This glorious beast is redecorated every single year with different corn. They also have an inside area that is dedicated to murals made with corn. All kinds of corny murals (but in some ways it is kinda cool).

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Everything you see here is totally decorated in corn kernels…. it’s insane!

International UFO Museum and Research Centre – Roswell, New Mexico, USA

This museum is dedicated to the “supposed” UFO sightings in Roswell in the 1940s. The whole town has gone stark raving mad. There was a pretend alien in a casket which is supposed to be reflective of what they found. There was a woman in the museum acting like the thing was a real alien. There are space ships that look like an art project done by a five year old. Loads of information anout the supposed sightings and debris from space ships. The whole thing is hilarious and worth the giggle if you don’t take it too seriously.

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A proper riot this museum

The Sex Museum – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Where else can you find a giant vagina-shaped lounge that is capable of swallowing you whole as you sit on it? Enough said. Actually, not enough said. There are all kinds of weird bits and pieces of things here. A kazillion porno pictures, a kazillion penises, vaginas everywhere. Only in Amsterdam….

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A vagina seat

If you get the chance, definitely stop in on these places and marvel at how strange some people and some things are. It really is marvellously odd.