Wednesday, August 10, 2005

hard to pinpoint

i'd like to revise that last statement. it was made in haste.

please excuse my resemblance to a broken record...

whether because the teaching itself gets easier as i go along, whether because markus visited me on saturday and cheered me immensely, whether because i just finished the mill on the floss and just loved it, whether because i went out for not-as-good-as-mumbo mexican last night with three like(ish) minded souls, whether because sqodge called and woke me up first thing this morn, whether because i rode 28 km (or something) in the sun around millstättersee this afternoon, or whether because i've changed my flight and am now arriving home on the 23rd, at the same time as originally planned, 1.30, i dunno. all i know is i'm feelin mighty fine and sunshiney and hope you are too.

oh, and the food is still shite.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

belasaraskaya peninsula and beyond

a bit late but here ya go xx


the trip from downtown mariupol to the belasaraskaya peninsula on the sea of azov, takes about an hour in a mashrutny taxi ~ otherwise known as a minibus ~ and costs around about AUD$1.

but! in the careening comfort of piotr viktorovich's lada, it's not only much quicker but another kind of adventure altogether. especially, if you're spoilt rotten like i was and forever given the privilege of the front seat sans ankle-biters while between five and seven passengers cram into the back...

i expect piotr's family are quite well off, having two televisions, a washing machine (that even works!), a car AND a garage in which to store it are all pretty strong indications. but even so, piotr turned the car engine off while we waited at traffic lights and always liked to coast downhill.

of course, he never but NEVER turned the blaring russian musika off, not even when the engine was off. i guess this is why the battery went flat and all six passengers had to get out and push ~ this preference for music over starting your car was a situation i saw repeated time and time again.

we could have gone swimming in mariupol, t'is true. it is, after all, a port city. they say the water's much cleaner on the peninsula but the rubbish strewn streets and lack of bins anywhere in sight lead me to think otherwise.

when we got there, piotr's mate's place was full so we wandered round the corner past shipping containers converted into summer homes, past piles of rubbish beneath signs declaring 100 hrv fines (AUD$25) for just that, past absolute mansions that looked like they belonged on the OC...well...almost, and found ourselves a room at rima ivanovna's place for about AUD$5 a night.

it was nothin fancy, just a room with four beds in it. but the bonuses included a shared fridge, an air-conditioner, of sorts, and lo and behold ~ a tv, snowier you never did see: we were content.

the days that followed, five of them, consisted entirely of sleeping, eating, drinking and lazing around on the beach with the many bikini-clad dyevushki ~ and yes, your typical ukrainian glamour queens they were but i, myself, was fascinated by the constant stream of, it's not what you think! i don't mean the ones stumbling drunkenly around in what looked like their sunday undies!!

i mean the ones who, along with young girls and babushka's, roamed the sands touting all manner of yummy treats: piroshki, ice-cream, wafered caramel wraps, sweet corn treats, fruity cakes and, what trip to ukraine would be complete without sunflower seeds! so impressed was i that i contemplated taking their portraits for a ukrainsky beach calendar ~ if they can sell a moe girls' calendar*, i can damn well sell a ukrainsky beach calendar and WHAT a souvenir!!

*darren6964 is selling one on e-bay if you're interested!

amidst all this was beer for breakfast, wine for lunch and vodka for dinner, followed by beer of course but, never fear, the alcohol didn't even attempt to replace the food, merely thoughtfully augmented the steady flow of fried delicacies and the remnants of salad buried beneath mountains of mayonnaise. yup, NOW you might understand that spare tyre i mentioned...

but after five sweet sun-drenched days and not ONE visit to the pricey discos ~ AUD$2.50, i mean really, how dare they?! ~ piotr viktorovich reappeared and our trip back to the mud-streaked streets of nikolayevka aka home sweet home began. the power station was still in a state of disrepair thus, there was no hot water and the task of daily ablution as challenging as ever.

now i'm in austria and yea, it's clean. but it's a helluva lot less interesting.

Monday, August 01, 2005


oh yea, i sorta forgot to mention a few things. got back to vienna on thursday morn after a grand total of sixty hours unterwegs from nikolayevka and GOD was it good to get "home" and shower.

spent thursday swimming in the sun (been about 37 degrees i think) with the kburg kids before they buggered off to bregenz guessed it...wasserball!

friday was just hanging out and cooking with helmtraud (and visiting the cops to report my 2nd mobile phone theft in six months) and checking out the vienna film festival with markus, that is, the soon to be visiting india followed by melbourne markus, YUP, the one and the same!

and on saturday just slept in and bludged around til beer o'clock with jolly & co. now am spending a couple of weeks in carinthia (see below!). after the pain of actually working is over, i'm back to kburg for TWO NIGHTS ONLY (blink and you'll miss it) and then farewell dear österreich, i loved you once.

coupla nights in chiavenna, coupla weeks in holland meeting up with me cuz kate n dave n later a weekend with SUPER ECCLES!! and then i think i got me a date with melbourne town...

just in case you were wonderin, that is



sunday night, nearly 10pm.

this morning helmtraud drove me to südbahnhof, we said our goodbyes for who knows how long, and i climbed on a train, make that two trains (but not at once), to spittal an der drau. it was a queasy ride after last night's jollyness at alte akh and beyond, but i made it. funny how somehow five hours can be harder to sit through than thirty-three.

along the way i saw endless beaches and sunbathers, but here, i've only seen the inside of my hostel. apparently there's a beautiful lake not far away which is 150m deep but as warm as 23 degrees. i plan to swim as much as possible and try and lose my ukrainsky spare tyre!

in mariupol they kept telling me i needed to eat meat, for the calories. i tried to explain i had no shortage of calories but they just thought that was a joke. i'm trying to write up my travellers tale at present but my stomach keeps getting in the way. will post it later this week.

apart from swimming and various excursions around the area, florence and i have seven english students on our hands for the next two weeks. so from 8am til 10pm we're mostly on duty, teaching that is, and conducting various activities.

not sure how it's gonna go coz old man mandl says we have to do all the preparation ourselves ~ a far cry from the good old days of bad ischl! florence doesn't seem to think there's anything to worry about but i'm not so sure...a good sleep'll help tho methinks.

oh yeh, and apparently there are no rocks in holland.