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A storm is coming... expect change here soon.

I am metal


I bought a new guitar... well, it was secondhand... I got it because it was undervalued at Cash Converters.

I am so metal I make things burn.

Airports are RAD FUN!

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

So… here I sit. In the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris - waiting for the time to tick over so I can depart for home. Well, technically I go to Singapore first, and have to sit around there for almost 7 hours. I did a little research online and found out that they do 2 hours tours for people in transit - but unfortunately I get to the airport 5min before the last tour starts - so it looks like I may have to take advantage of the free transit movie cinema.

Paris was nice - although would have been much nicer at the start of the trip instead of the end, when the impending finale is ever so close and all your attention is focused on awaking some magical power within to enable you to re-write all that is. This way my journey can continue without having to go back to work, and if I were to click the heels of my bright red sneakers together, I would be magically transported home to take a nap and use internet services that don’t eat your money like an upper class hooker.

What was I saying? Oh yeah! Paris was cool. The whole city is very open and it really is a nice city just to ‘be in’ and wander around. It is actually dirtier than I thought it would be - I think we can thanks magical movie techniques for this perception - but there is still a lot of beauty in the city. People here were much nicer than I expected too. Actually - that reminds me… at the end of this rant I am going to post a list of countries and hostels and rank them - mainly for my own future reference - but maybe I can make this in to a book and make millions of dollars with my travel advice?

The first day in Paris I went on a free walking tour - mainly because I really couldn’t be arsed thinking about where I wanted to go and how I was going to do it. It actually turned out to be really good - the loud Texan girl we had as our guide was very in to her French history and expressed everything in a very entertaining and lively manner. The biggest problem was that I forgot my camera - but this wasn’t so bad as I could take more of everything in and was able to return to most of the places the next day and take dickhead tourist photos as needed. Which I did. Lots of walking - since my hostel was a long way away from the city. Yeah, could have taken the metro, but that costs money and you miss things - like I stumbled across some small markets just outside of the city center - which I would never have found if I wasn’t walking. Same with the African French area - which I only realised I was in when there were all these Afro stores and Black Beauty Supply stores etc. Oh yeah, and suddenly I was surround by a ton of French speaking African people. Same with the Indian area - but that was a bit more obvious with the tacky clothing stores and bollywood movies everywhere.

So - enough of Paris - I feel like giving a bit of a round up of my favorite places and hostels.

Montreal - Probably only because of everything that was happening in the city at the time I was there, but having spent a week here I enjoyed the entire time with some good company on most of the days and the brilliant atmosphere. Really - the city is not as good as Paris, but I really hit the city at a good time.
Paris - Well - it is a great city. Surprisingly, people were a lot friendlier than I thought and those whole place had a good vibe. Mix that in with a good hostel and some friendly travelers (this is the only place I got drunk in) and it’s almost at the top of the list. Probably, if I had spent a little more time here it would have made the top. The only real bad thing in Paris is how bad the pedestrians are… they were terrible. Tourists and Parisians.
Amsterdam - I really liked Amsterdam. It has a lot of youth, music and arts culture going on, and I thought it had a lot of character with the canals and all the bike riding. Unfortunately, it’s brought down bus the huge amounts of dickhead tourists there just to get stoned… but despite this, it still manages to be a great city.
New York - Possibly should be a little higher on my list, and it definitely would have made it if I had some better company here and a lot more time. The whole city is alive and full of things to do. It’s not the most beautiful city in the world, but it’s a sea of modern culture and life.
Quebec - Quebec was nice when it wasn’t raining. Didn’t stay here overnight, so it only scores high due to the fact it was a beautiful day-trip city.
Philadelphia - I didn’t get to see much of Philly, but it scores huge points for the Rocky steps and I noticed it has a lot of small galleries down some of the smaller streets there. I think there are a lot of arts and medical students in Philly.
Boston - Botson was a great city - I just was just a bit worn out when I got here, and really didn’t think it had that much more to offer than some of the other cities I had already been to. There are a lot of students in Boston too.
London - London wasn’t bad - it was just full of the big old buildings, and really dropped down on my list to to the excitement factor not being overly high for me, and probably the company and the hostel I stayed in. Still a great city though.
Toronto - Toronto was just a city, and didn’t feel overly special. You could probably say the same thing about Montreal when there’s nothing going on there. This was also brought down by the fact that Niagara Falls (which is an hour away from Toronto, but I’ll mix it in anyway) was such a tourist ridden hole. Beautiful waterfall though… shame about the amusement park right next to it.
Ottawa - BORING! Was pretty enough in the center, like any capital city. Average and run down looking outside of the main area. Only beat Vancouver because there was a Blues festival there, and I got to see Snoop Dog smoke a big joint on stage.
Vancouver - Vancouver was nice enough - but just not that exciting. None of the places I visited were bad, it’s just that Vancouver isn’t really what I would call a big thriving city - it has a smaller population than Adelaide. Also seemed to have the biggest homeless population out of all the cities I visited.
Washington - I didn’t like Washington. It was all about this historical American wank in the center - where everything is green and beautiful, but all around this area the city seemed over run with homeless people and rap / hip hop culture influenced African Americans - which I have no problem with as long as they don’t yell all the time in order to make people around them feel intimidated of them. It just seemed like city center was this caramel filling, but it was all wrapped up in a giant turd. It’s fine if you spend all your time in the caramel center - you can live in complete ignorance of the turd around you - but it’s not the city for me.

Hmmm… Might write up that list of hostels later - can’t be arsed doing it right now.

Stuff

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

Hungry. Tired. Like Paris. Going home soon. Bleh.

More Amsterdam

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

Well, i actually really like Amsterdam. It has a good ‘vibe’ to it. It’s weird though - it’s probably a lot ‘less’ in general than I had expected. For example - I thought the red light district would be bigger, and I expected the emphasis on the fact that you can pretty much smoke a joint wherever you want to be a lot bigger… but it’s all toned down more than you would probably expect. Anyway, that’s probably a good thing - as the place is tourist ridden enough as it is.

Anyway, not a lot of time again. Off to Paris tomorrow - should have free WiFi there.

Amsterdam

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

Not much time to write.

Amsterdam is cool. Tourists who come here to get shit faced and totally stoned are annoying. Dutch people on bicycles are crazy - and expect you to get out of their way. In general though, the people here have been the friendliest so far… and I don’t expect the French to top that.

Went for some walking today, but it’s a little wet now. I think I would definitely enjoy Europe a little more traveling with someone I knew. Basically, all the people at the past two hostels have been groups of people with no real intentions or desire to mingle with anyone.

All three trams I needed to catch from the tram station when I arrived in Amsterdam were out of operation - so i spoke to a travel guy who pointed me to a bus and told me to jump on a different tram… which didn’t turn up - so I ended up walking. Hooray for maps on bus stops telling me where I am - since I didn’t have a map on me at the time.

London Stuff

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

Last night in London. Walked around a bit more today - it was supposed to rain, but has really only just started now. It did rain for a little bit earlier - and felt like the wind was going to destroy my super Quebec umbrella… I probably would have gone out again if I had known it wasn’t going to pour down with rain like the weather people made it sound.

I’ve managed to use a paid wireless service from the dorm room. Which was ok - although the room has now just been filled with both groups of girls and is like a dangerous war zone. I’ve worked out that the other group is Spanish - and were singing a whole bunch of weird Spanish stuff before. One of the German girls has these crutches for some reason - and they were trying to ask if they could be moved to the bottom floor, to make it easier for her - but the idiots at the hostel made it sound like a super difficult request. I thought that was a bit harsh… then again, maybe the guy did everything he could but was just a bit blunt getting his info across?

So, Amsterdam tomorrow. I have to get to the airport fairly early - the guy at the front desk is convinced the airline I’m flying with don’t need me there super early - but I’ll catch the earliest Underground thingo and hope it’s good enough.

I’ll have to ‘pick pocket proof’ myself before I leave - although I’m fairly sure the types of people who are pick pocketed are pretty stupid and must really be distracted or out of it at times.

Damn - I just discovered my camera’s photos are a little soft because the ‘N’ in front of the photo resolution stands for normal, and the ‘F’ stands for Fine… and mine’s been on normal the whole time. Anyway, I was going to put some photos up, but can’t be arsed.

Maybe this link will work?

Stupid hostels… and London or something.

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

OK - So this place doens’t have free WiFi - so I’m hardly using the internet at the moment. The only reason I am right now is because I wanted to check the conditions of mixed dorms at the Amsterdam and Paris hostels, since the Philadelphia one told me that “they don’t book single male’s in to mixed dorms” and that “they whould have had to turn me away if they didn’t have a male only bed free” - which is all nice, but it would have been good if they had either informed me to this on their website or had picked up that I had booked this by myself.

Anyway, I just noticed that my final two hostels were booked as mixed - which I was trying to do incase Jackie ended up travelling along with me. I’ve read nothing on their websites about this - so whatever.

This London hostel is stupid. It’s for big groups of 18-21 year olds to stay at and drink a lot I think. I am in a dorm with all girls - which sounds a lot better than it actually is. In reality - all they do is turn up late when you’re trying to sleep and talk a lot in German and whatever other language the second group of girls is. I actually feel a little like I’ve been acidentally booked in to a female dorm room - which I even queried the people on the desk about this just to make sure the girls didn’t freak out expecting feamles only. Apparently it’s all good. Oh, and the worst thing is that the showers have those taps that you push and time out after about 5 - 10 seconds. You usually have them on the sink, but for some bloody idiotic reason they’re on the showers, so the water switches off ever 5 - 10 seconds unless you keep pushing the tap thingy.

Oh yeah, so London - walked around a lot. Saw just about everything worth seeing today since it wasn’t raining… almost did though. Should be raining tomorrow, so I don’t know if I’vee go for a walk or catch the Undergorounf somewhere just to get out for a few hours. No free WiFi here = boredom if I have nothing to do, and there aren’t really any good social areas so you don’t end up talking to many people.

Alright, my time’s almost up.

FUCKING LONDON!

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

Alright, so my problem isn’t really with London as it is with Travelex…. or NAB - whoever caused the problem that resulted in my VISA card not working. This was a problem since I only had about $5 USD in my wallet and all the ATM machines in Heathrow airport are Travelex machines - but after many phone calls to banks etc. the crisis was averted - but only because I managed to find an American Express currency exchange booth who were kind enough to out a transaction through for me and give me the money.

Anyway, I’m currently wasting a few minutes to make sure I’m not riding on the Underground in peak hour and don’t get to my hostel too early. Other than the money issues, the flight was alright - Air Canada actually decided to feed me this time which was a nice surprise - I think I’d be going mental right now if I couldn’t get money and was absolutely starving.

Ottawa - Canada’s Capital

Originally published at Luke's Overseas Exploits. You can comment here or there.

Welcome to Ottawa. Home of boring capital stuff and a cool festival called Bluesfest. Luke stumbled across the existence of Bluesfest tooling around on facebook - as it informed him that Primus were on tour in Ottawa - surprisingly on the same day he was planning to travel there.

Anyway, I basically spent over an hour walking up and down streets in the sun trying to find a place that would sell me a day pass. I would have done it online, but didn’t have a printer to use - so I tried a net cafe but they had stopped selling them online by this point - so I went to a music store which just happened to have a sign up saying ‘closed on the 6th of June’ - so I walked all the way back where I came from and kept going south to another location for the same music store… and got a ticket.

Anyway - at this point I was completely fucked from all this walking - so I ate some lunch and then continued to see what Ottawa was all about. I discovered that Ottawa - a lot like Washington DC - is a lovely green place filled with old monuments and great big old buildings full of culture and history, surrounded by dirty old suburbs which are often quite shitty and run down looking. Anyway, here are some of the big flasho capital photos.

building


building

building

This next photo was taken just after the spider aliens crawled out of the ground and started attacking the city and capturing and killing everyone. I managed to escape only to realise later that the germs in the air would naturally kill off foreign visitors from space, and they all died and my day continued as normal. Note: These events may or may not be completely fabricated and are possibly based on an old book that was made in to a movie a while ago and then recently re-made in to a movie so Tom Cruise could ponce around and be a stupid git.

war of the worlds

For some reason it only occurred to me in Ottawa to have a photo taken with me groping a historical monument just to contrast with the amount of pride North American’s seem to put in all this shit - which could have actually turned out to be a bad idea, since I’m sure a police officer (especially a US police officer) would seize this opportunity to arrest me for some stupid law I could never know about. Anyway, I wasn’t with anyone who could take a photo of me trying to hold Abraham Lincoln’s Alexander McKenzie’s balls - so I took a photo of a seagull shitting on his head instead. Close enough.

poop head

I also discovered that balancing on the edge of Road Runner canyon like cliffs can result in the tiny pointy edge of the cliff breaking and me falling to my doom - or rather, falling while a whistle noise accompanies my descent and hitting the ground in a great dust cloud - only to find I have survived, but strangely will put myself in danger once again just to try and catch that sly Road Runner.

DANGER

Anyway, enough of the boring - on to the Ottawa Bluesfest!

First up was a band called Les Breastfeeders - they sang in their crazy Canadian French, so I didn’t understand a word. The main singer guy acted like he wanted to be in The Hives. They were alright as far as mainstream pop infused rock goes I guess.

Les Breastfeeders

Les Breastfeeders

Le Breastfeeders

Next up I saw a band called Infectious Mushroom. Yep - a stupid name, so I knew they were going to be lacking something… which I later found out to be diversity. Every song was accompanied by the same ‘doof doof doof’ beat - and now matter how many cool guitar licks the super generic Ramones T-Shirt wearing guitarist pulled off, it was still very boring and generic.

Infectious Mushroom

Infectious Mushroom

Infectious Mushroom

Next up - Snoop Dog. I love watching rap artists at festivals like this, since I’d never pay to see them normally, and I always find them entertaining. Oh, I should probably mention at this point that my ticket cost me $39 CAD - which is probably approx $46 AUD. Not $100+ which I would expect Snoop Dog tickets to sell for if he did his own show. Anyway - Snoop put on a good show as you would expect. Lots of “When I say Sticky, you say icky” and “What’s my name? What? What’s my mother fucking name?” to which the crowd yells back the obvious and it gets everyone going.

Snoop Dog

Soop Dog

Snoop Dog

For the finale, we have Primus - the reason I bought my ticket - and thankfully, Snoop Dog put on a good show, so the disappointment wasn’t too bad when Primus were completely boring. Well, not completely - they played John The Fisherman and My Name is Mud - but no Winona’s Big Brown Beaver, Shake Hands With Beef or Laquer Head. When they play a good song, it’s awesome… but in between all the good songs is a whole heap of self indulgent wank - stupid noises on the bass without even demonstrating any real technical ability - and anyone who knows Primus will know that Les Claypool is capable of some pretty amazing stuff. Still, I was mainly shocked at no Winona’s Big Brown Beaver.

Primus

Primus

Primus

After this, I had to rush back to the bus station so I could get on one of the last buses back to Montreal. Just made the 10:00pm bus, so I managed to get back to Montreal at 12:30am and retreat to my hostel and get some sleep.