I had no real plans for Malaga. I was really only going there because that was the nearest city with an airport that would get me to Bratislava on Ryan Air. From the city guide Ryan Air gave me, I knew that Malaga was the birthplace of Picasso and that there’s a Picasso museum there, a small, intimate one (first photo). After checking in, I more or less made a beeline towards it and geocaching actually led me there through the chaotic lanes of the inner old town.
On recommendation from the guy at the hostel, I then went for lunch at El Pimpi. The food was fairly tasty, and inexpensive… Not too bad. Dining alone, I was taking it as an opportunity to write a postcard (I think to Lauren) when this stunning Spanish woman down the bench leant over to ask me where I was from in heavily-accented English. I was completely taken aback that she was talking to me and it was made only more awkward when her boyfriend came back from the bathroom grumpy-faced. It turned out they used to live in Singapore for a couple years for work and was wondering if I happened to be from there. Gee, she must’ve had a good time there ay?
Even though I had my swimmers with me, I had no intention to go for a swim (not alone, anyway), but I headed towards the beach anyway as that was wear the caches were. I stumbled across a few shops where I had a funny conversation in Spanish where I learned the word for thongs. The woman found it so funny when I asked for “flip flops” – which I thought would be more comprehensible than “thongs” to a foreigner! Just so you know, in Spanish, they’re called “chanclas”, which I in turn think sounds funny.
Wearing my new chanclas, I sat for a while at the beach, just soaking it in, people watching, and bought a Calippo to cool down. A bunch of guys who were all wearing the same clothes (they looked like they might have been pro football players) got me to take their photo.
Next, I set my sights on bush-bashing up the hill. The middle photo of the “3” is of one of the caches I got up there. It probably wasn’t the most direct or proper route but with my beaten up Vans back on, I eventually got up there, and you can see the view of the Med from there I got… It was breathtaking! A few caches later, I was ready to head back and get some dinner (just pizza).
Finally at the hostel I met my roommates – two really cool-in-a-cute-dorky-goofy-way Belgian girls. To give you a better idea, they’re the type of friends who are so tight other people mistake them for a couple. They both study translation so obviously spend a lot of time together. They finish each other’s sentences, bicker over details of stories, know everything about each other… It was fun playing them off each other and chatting and whatnot as we all tried to get to sleep in the stinking heat. Unfortunately, that would be it for getting to know them as the next morning I was up at 6am to get the plane to Vienna via Bratislava!
Edwin left early in the morning and I was left to fend for myself. Attempting to speak Spanish was suddenly infinitely more daunting and I had to have a sense of humour about my speaking skills. Having studied it at uni in 2009 and 2010 I was feeling pretty silly about it and made a resolution to continue practicing it when I went back home to Sydney.
So what did I do on my day alone?
I lay around a lot in the hostel and chilled out from the dead, hot air.
I braved the heat to get some lunch, revisiting Los Coloniales from the night before. The second two photos are the fruits of my ordering in Spanish.
I bought a new notebook to replace the one I lost on the train to Granada.
When the day got a little cooler I went for a long walk to find some caches.
On the way back I got myself some early dinner at the place me and Edwin found great Solomillo. Unfortunately, I’d gotten there a little too early this time and the kitchen wasn’t properly open yet – ah those late-eating Spanish! The waitress had a good laugh at my attempts at communicating in her language haha. Tired and not all that hungry anyway after days of decadence I ordered what you can see and went back to the hostel to pack and prepare for my next move.
After Granada it was back to Seville for a night as Edwin had to get his flight from there to Hamburg… Look what we had for dinner! For price, taste, range, atmosphere, location, if you’re in Seville and are in need of a feed, go to Los Coloniales! Possibly the only downside was that the Solomillo at the other place was a bit better…
Afterwards, we let loose a bit and went on a hostel pub crawl. This was our last night together, anyway! It was alright. We met some Germans and despite being out of the country and trying to speak Spanish for more than half a week already, I was comforted by how easily and naturally my German came back to me.
There would be one more stop before home and that was dinner of course! I don’t know what street it was on or what it was called but on the way back to Garden we made a stop at a tapas bar and happened to order this: “Solomillo”. What is it? Sirloin steak in a garlic and whiskey sauce. Put simply, it is heaven. Delightful. The best. My favourite tapa in the whole wide world! If you go to the south of Spain, look for this on the menu!
Another plus was that we got to watch the Under-19 European Football Championships final on the television there where we got to watch Suso, a youth player at Liverpool, the club we both follow.
I’ve been back in Sydney for more than a month now and since then, life has been extremely hectic. This week I’ve resolved to give myself as much downtime as possible because I’ve been doing just way too many things lately. While my memories of exchange, living away from home, travelling have been fading, I feel I haven’t really the time to even process all of it. I’ve been giving generic answers to the unavoidable “oh how was your trip?!” I get from anyone I’m meeting again for the first time. Now I’m attempting to go through all of the photos, relive all of the experiences, and finally put it in the past, knowing what I think of the whole thing and what I’ve gotten out of the experience. Anyway, here goes…
This photo was taken at about midnight on my first day in Seville. The night before I’d stayed up really late packing my bag for my holiday but also my suitcase for when I’d be going home to Sydney so I was dead tired, I was in a different country in a completely different climate, I’d gone through a long journey from Junkersdorf to the airport and then a baptism of fire getting myself from Seville airport to the hostel, I’d just had a quick crash course in Spanish food and flamenco culture. I felt like I’d been suddenly thrown into the fray, my thirst for travelling and exploring and discovering quickly and immediately whetted.
Curious to see more about my new surroundings, I did what comes naturally to me… Geocache! Thankfully, Edwin took to it and soon we were walking towards the canal, then all along it, then back towards the city centre, I think we must have gotten 4 or 5? The first photo is the churro and chocolate sauce we got from this random kiosk along the canal, the second is of Edwin logging a cache on the steps of Metropol Parasol.
Later, exhausted and sweaty on my bed in our soothingly air-conditioned hostel room, I actually can’t remember if I was more nervous or excited about the next three weeks. I do know, though, that I’d been telling myself that those last three weeks were going to be my last hurrah, and I think that spurred me on to be more excited than nervous over the course of the trip.
Last week was a good food week for me. Starting with green curry, I then had a mushroom party with black bean sauce, then a cafe-style pasta dish, then some Chinese Pak-Choi, and finished off with my staple meat and veg with a sweet potato and potato mash. Mmmmmm very happy. It was good practice for me cooking a variety of things too!
The other two nights I stayed in Paris I was with my mate Alebe who was also coming to the end of a year-long exchange. We represented a rather strange mix: an Asian Australian and a Brazilian speaking German in Paris! It surprised me how much he and his friends actually do eat croissant and baguette and coffee for breakfast!
It was the best fun being shown around the city by a pretty much local on a bike. I felt so unsafe riding with all the cars zooming past me and I had to make sure I was still going fast enough to keep up with him to avoid being cut off by traffic. We went all over the city and I was surprised to discover that all of the tourist destinations are quite interwoven with the rest of the city.
For example, the Arc de Triomphe is ridiculously busy and packed with tourists but just down the road lived Alebe’s friend in a really quiet residential street! Another example I thought, was how the bars and the normal shopping streets Alebe and Steph and their friends took me to (i.e. not the Champs-Élysées) were so near to, for example, the Louvre.
3 different types of trains, tourists and locals scattered all over, every nationality represented, Paris is a real big city and I had the best time getting to know it!
All you can eat sushi in Paris! I can’t remember where exactly it was, and it was a bit pricey, but it tasted fresh! In 4 months of being here this was the only time I’ve trusted European sushi and I wasn’t disappointed.