For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Monday, 27 April 2015

TO TRAVEL.... US AUSSIES ARE LUCKY WE CAN #travelsafewithyourmates

A Photo from my diary.  A photo by Tara Reynolds

I turned on the television to the 6 o'clock news this evening and it was grim, again. The headline was the devastating earthquake in Nepal with thousands homeless, many travellers and Nepalese missing, buildings that stood for hundreds of years destroyed, thousands killed and being pulled from the rubble all day long while the dead count increases, the funeral pyres burn... base camp at Everest was engulfed by an avalanche killing many people, including one Australian... mother nature unleashes her fury once again, unpredictably.

The next item on the news was about the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Nusakambangan Island and followed by that was news about the clean up after Sydney's East Coast Low and Hail storms from the last week and the prediction of major storm later this week.

The news doesn't often seem good!

So I am going to share a nice story from my diary, a happy time I shared with Britt Lapthorne travelling overseas in Europe at the beginning of our time together. The news may be bleak right now as we speak but the world out there is still beautiful!

We had arrived in Warsaw. It was a lovely train ride from Prague and we managed to keep a private train compartment all to ourselves. This was not easy mind you! At a few major cities we had to pretend to be asleep and lay across both sides of the compartment with a magazine or something over our faces so when new passengers walked past our door and peered through the glass... they didn't bother coming in as we looked passed out. It was pure genius! We continued our method on many a train train ride, it kept us safe, it kept us together.... just us :)

On a train in Europe. Photo by Tara Reynolds.

Warsaw actually shocked us a little, it wasn't glamorous. It was a very basic concrete jungle. We later understood why after visiting the sites (Warsaw was pretty much flattened in world war two, many buildings were built by the government quickly and cheaply to get people housed as soon as possible). We left the train station and travelled on foot to our hostel, which we found very easily thanks to our Lonely Planet guide book, don't leave home without it! (Well, now it's all on line but it was a brick of a book just under 10 years ago but invaluable at the time).

We already noticed a comical side in their advertisement billboards and shop fronts. One shop was using a lady with massive boobs that Britt and I could only describe as "Stiflers mom" from the movie American Pie. The lady in the huge image on the side of a building made us double over (with our heavy backpacks) in laughter. We walked past her on route to our hostel, and again when we left Warsaw after a few days heading back to the train station. It was hilarious, she even seemed to be holding a stripper pole!

Photo from lostinrelocation.com
We found Stiflers mom! Photo by Britt Lapthorne

Our hostel was awesome, so much better than the one in Prague. It was clean, had 2 TV rooms and a nice communal area to cook, eat and socialise in. On our first night, when the closing ceremony for the Olympics in Beijing was on, we decided to cook up a storm so once we have checked in to our 6 bed dorm, we headed back out to the local store to buy supplies. Britt and myself decided on only sleeping in a 4 bed or 6 bed dorm and only for women. We had parted ways with our male friends in Prague and decided this was the safest and most comfortable way to travel. It also was cheaper than going for a twin room. Handy tip my ladies!

The local store was frustrating for me as they didn't have much fresh produce. I like to cook so this was annoying to me and we encountered this problem a lot in Eastern Europe. We are so blessed in Australia for fresh produce! Britt was going to be happy with whatever but I insisted we could cook something simple, cheap and easy, but also fresh and healthy and this continued throughout our time together.

We were able to buy a capsicum, an onion and garlic. We obtained some pasta, canned tomatoes, tomato paste from the store and raided the free hostel box (travellers leave their unwanted cooking goods behind when they fly) so we scored olive oil, salt, sugar, random herbs and some sherry to add to the mix. Everyone around us was green with envy! One guy was cooking just a potato for dinner... that's it! Someone else was cooking pot noodles. Everyone commented on how great our food smelt and they were drooling from the mouth. Britt and myself felt pretty proud of our pasta... we did very well for packers.

Two British ladies also admired our creation. We ended up sitting with them and eating our tasty meal and discussing travel plans. We learned they didn't have a Lonely Planet guide... Nooooooooo!

We decided to head out the next day together and see the sites. We also saw them again down the track at another city and we all became close travel friends.

I have remained in touch with those ladies who we spent some amazing times with Britt and myself whilst overseas. I am still in touch with them today.

With all the sadness in the news, which always will remain... there is happiness and there is beauty. These times with Britt only brings me smiles. Keep your travel friends close and #travelsafewithyourmates

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