Sorry for the lack of updating- I didn't get much chance to use the internet while I was overseas, and when I got back I had to complete a take-home exam for consumer law...and that sort of involved actually learning the about the examinable topic while I was completing the exam. Multitasking for the win!
I was actually extremely fortunate to get the chance to hand in the exam at all, because the Iceland volcano (it's ICEland...where does it get off having gigantic heat explosions?) shut down operations at Heathrow Airport the day I flew out from London to Singapore. However, our pilot made the decision to take off an hour early, meaning that we literally got out of Heathrow forty minutes before they shut down. Ironically, when we got to Singapore I flicked through the cable channels and 'Dante's Peak' was playing on the cinema station :D
It feels weird to be back in Melbourne, tugging on gloves in the cold when only a few weeks ago, I was wandering around Spain in the Andalusian sunshine. It also feels weird to be facing a giant pile of law readings when a few weeks ago, my only concern was whether eating a Magnum for lunch would elicit a sense of loss for not getting the limited edition Cornetto sitting next to it in the ice-cream freezer. Such dilemmas were easily solved (the Magnum was purchased for lunch; the Cornetto for an afternoon snack) but alas, the giant pile of law readings currently sitting on the table downstairs cannot be vanquished merely by the provision of three euros.
The trip was amazing. It was my first trip to Europe, and I was stunned by the amount of history behind everything. Earlier this year, I was reading a collection of 19th century Australian essays and stories- and one of them noted that although Australia lacks the history of European buildings, our beauty and value lie in the natural wonders of our landscape. And that's true. Australia is lovely. Australia has much natural beauty to offer to the marvelling eye.
BUT EUROPEAN HISTORY KICKS ASS.
I walked along 2000 year old walls in York, built by Willliam the Conqueror. I wandered through old Moorish palaces and centuries-old Cathedrals. I saw the tombs of English monarchs in Westminster Abbey, and saw busts from Ancient Greece and paintings from the Renaissance in the Prado.
And it was freaking awesome.
I'm just going to post a photo or two up for fellow blogger (and now fellow Aries 22 year old!) miku, as she was recently in Barcelona and it was ridiculously exciting to look at her photos and squeal, "Ooh I've been there!!!" The salamander says happy birthday- and I hope the salamander of your dreams comes along and picks you up and takes you over his salamander shoulder! :D (Photos are smallest size as takes me a while to upload!)
(The photos above were taken in Park Guell, one of Gaudi's architectural creations. I love the gingerbread house on the left side- it even has little button candies along the windowpanes.)
Before I pop back downstairs to resume my readings, a few tips I've picked up:
Daph's Travel Tips for Spain and England
- in Spain, when people say 'I only speak a little English', don't believe them. After saying this, they will then wax lyrical in fluent English to the point where they could probably write a 2,000 word essay for English Literature and surpass most high school students in Britain, America and Australia.
- in Spain, when people say "Muy poquito" when you ask them if they speak English, they actually do mean that they don't speak much English.
- Spanish coffee is amazing. In Spain, ask for a 'cafe con leche' (there are accents there but admittedly I'm too lazy to format the plain text, sorry!) and you'll get a lovely strong latte. Ask for a 'cafe solo' and you'll probably get knocked out by the intensity. In England, coffee mostly needs a bit of improvement before it can be classified as coffee. Ask for a double shot, or a strong latte, or you'll just get very nicely foamed milk.
- take a travel pillow on long flights. Otherwise you'll wake up with the Neck Crick to End All Neck Cricks.
- 'American Psycho' is not a relaxing book to read on a flight. However, it will keep you awake, and horrified, if you need to stay up to switch time zones.
- They have one pence coins in England. Run away before the service assistant can give you a wallet-clogging bronze coin after buying your 99p Ribena.
- If you are regret not buying something from Zara or Mango in Spain, don't sweat it. One will magically appear every 20 metres down the street across the entire country.
- If you're around Andalusia at Easter and you see people in white cloaks and white pointy hats with eye-holes marching past, they're being pious Catholics and not racist redneck Americans.
- If your hotel offers a laundry service, be aware that they will charge about three euro PER PAIR of underwear. It is much more fun to construct a shameful makeshift washing line in the bathroom- even though the maid will think you're a cheap bastard, it's awfully fun to get a calculator and add up just how many euros you've saved...my calculations for one load came to at least 150 euros.
- Hotel tea in England is frightening and makes strange dymorphic forms that creep up the teacup when you add hot water. Be wary of new British tea-based lifeforms brewing in your cup. High tea, on the other hand, is most excellent and quite free of strange liquids trying to grope their way up the side of your cup.
Hope you've all had a good past month or so- will hopefully update a bit quicker this time! :)