Monday, 15 August 2011

the balkans, france, spain & morocco

well.. this is the first time in like six weeks, since Albania, that I've had the chance to write anything. When I left Albania I rushed through Montenegro, Bosnia and Serbia like two or so weeks, and then spent three weeks in France, a week and a half in Morocco and I've been in Spain for a few days, and have another two weeks here before I go to the Caucasus, Middle East and East Africa. I'll start writing more frequently when I begin going to more interesting places.

Anyway, I feel as though this should just be a photo-journal from now on instead of publishing all my deepest thoughts to you all. So...

Yep, another cliff jump in Budva, Montenegro. The first place after Albania I went. I wouldn't recommend going there though, super tacky and too many russians in speedos

The bridge where Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was shot in 1914 to trigger world war one- Sarajevo, Bosnia

There was also a war in Bosnia in the early 1990s, which I'm sure you're all aware of. Over 100 000 people were killed, and saw the biggest genocide in Europe since WW2. It was crazy to see a lot of the gravestones were people who were about 18 or so years old. There are also bullet holes everywhere in most of the major buildings in Sarajevo, and there were even bullet holes in the hostel I stayed at.

After I spent a few days in Bosnia I got a bus up to Belgrade in Serbia, where I couchsurfed with a dude who was hosting like 7 other couchsurfers, which was really awesome. I don't know how he ever got anything done. the day I arrived in Belgrade, Novac Djokovic was returning home to Serbia (he's Serbian) after winning wimbledon. The government estimated that there were over one million people in the streets that night, it was truly crazy. People were climbing everything to get a better view, and countless flares were lit. If you can't see properly, there are two people on that sign.
After Belgrade I went to Novi Sad (also in Serbia) for Exit festival. I didn't take many photos. But we had 21 people crammed into one room, in 40 degree heat with no air conditioning, and a landlady who was truly the worst person I've ever encountered in my life. It was a really fun few days to catch up with everyone, but never again.
Budapest is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to, more so than Paris.
After all of Eastern Europe I flew to France with my girlfriend, Mylene to spend time with her family (she is French). All the stereotypes I'd heard about French people, such as being arrogant and only concerned about France, are completely untrue. I've never felt more welcomed anywhere, and all the people I  met seemed genuinely interested in Australian culture and were not at all arrogant. I also had Bastille Day with her whole extended family, none of whom spoke English and unfortunately my French hadn't evolved into conversational standard at that point. Thankfully Mylene told her family I spoke great Spanish (which may have been half true two years ago), which made for interesting conversation.

One of the highlights of spending three weeks in France was cycling with Mylene around the countryside for a few days, through heaps of medieval villages including Buxy, Cluny and Cormatin.
After Paris, Bourgogne and Tours, we went down to Nice where we went couchsurfing with a 60 year old gay dude (pictured left). A lot of people have been asking me how it was, and I wouldn't say it was a complete nightmare as he was a great tour guide, but he was the epitome of annoying. He wouldn't leave us alone the whole time, and breathed down our neck while we cooked him dinner. He claimed he "didn't host zee vegetarians", but we showed him good. He had that smell that some people have, you know that smell of poo? Luckily he didn't speak a word of English, so Mylene had to deal with his breath the whole time while I kept my distance.

After we left this dude we spent a few days in Marseilles with Thomas Busson, a guy I worked with in Cargo from Marseilles, after which we flew to the south of Spain. We were originally to spend a whole month doing an internship with the World Fair Trade Organisation headquarters in Cordoba, yet we quit after a day. Basically they had us doing work which they didn't want to pay someone to do, for example Mylene was to spend the month translating some book from English to French. Isn't the whole point of an internship to learn about the company? Obviously not. So we got on the next bus to Algeciras, and got the ferry across to Morocco to spend 10 days, which turned out to be an awesome decision.

One of the highlights was definitely spending a night camping in the Sahara desert, which was 50 degrees during the day time. We got to ride camels too. 

I think the whole time we spent in Morocco we may have paid for dinner 3 of those nights; Moroccans invited us in to their house for dinner all the other nights. This picture to the left was in a small town in the north, whereby a man named Abdul invited us in for dinner. He then guilted us to buy his hashish from him (hashish is tolerated in Morocco), which we had no use for; luckily we offloaded it onto a girl at the hostel. Anyway,
I must say that I have mixed feelings about Moroccans, they are either super friendly and hospitable or really shit, and rip you off constantly; Mylene and I fell for a few of their traps, but whatever.  After we left Morocco and spendt some time with Nick Simpson and his family back in Spain again, Mylene and I got a job on a farm picking almonds and learning about all sorts of other interesting things, which we are currently still doing. I will post photos later. I will be leaving Spain in a week to go to Turkey, Georgia and Iran for around 6 or so weeks.

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