July 26, 2007

One month to go

A month from today I leave for Australia. It sort of freaked me out when I was thinking that this morning, like it's not a few months or a couple of months anymore, but just 1. Four weeks from this coming Sunday. It's starting to sound very close and I have so much to do before I go. It'll all get done somehow, but busy weeks are ahead.

Now that I have the Lonely Planet for Australia, I'm not having as much fun reading it as I did with the one for New Zealand. Part of it is that it's a much larger country, so they have to fit so much info into one book. I've discovered that this means that a lot of the info on things to do is very brief, so I'm always left wanting to know a bit more about a place. I know I can look things up online, but it makes it more time consuming.

Also, the very first time I sat down to start flipping through the book, there were two things that peeved me about it. One was a short bit quite distinctly ripping on Bill Bryson and his writing. I dunno what's the problem with whoever wrote that, and I know not everyone likes everything, but I thought it was a bit weird and unnecessary since usually Bill Bryson is quite highly regarded.

Actually now that I think about it, there's a quote from Bill Bryson praising Rough Guides on the cover of the Rough Guide to San Francisco that I have. So perhaps Lonely Planet is just bitter towards him. And to be honest, I prefer Rough Guides over Lonely Planets (though thank god LP has improved how they organize their maps because that's what really turned me against them, how much the maps in the LP Budapest pissed me off) and I only got the LP New Zealand because I was going to get a copy of the LP Australia from the agency I got my visa from and I figured it was best to stick with the same series. While the maps are easier to find things on, the maps, especially in the New Zealand book, are so hard to read that they make my eyes ache. They were printed poorly or something, it's near impossible sometimes to tell what is land and what is water.

The other thing that started the LP Australia off on the wrong foot with me was that in their list of Australian films and recommendations, there is nary a mention of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which is just inexcusable. It's maybe not the best movie ever made, and I know I have a personal bias towards the movie, it's one of my favourites, but if you're going to mention Mad Max and Muriel's Wedding, then I think Priscilla should be in there. I mean, Christ, the bus was part of the party at the end of the Sydney Olympics.

In less-ranty news, O returns from Prague today. It feels like he's been gone longer than a week. I'm looking forward to having him back, at least just so someone else can feed the cat in the morning.

July 20, 2007

This week

I meant to post about this days ago, but then work got in the way.

Tuesday night O and I went to see the Thermals play upstairs at Paradiso. It was an awesome show, so much more energetic than when I last saw them play in Rotterdam. The place was packed and a little moshing area formed to my left (which meant I slid more and more to the right; I shy away from thrashing bodies and flying elbows). The band seemed both amused and appreciative of the moshers, many of whom were drunkenly shouting out the lyrics to the songs. It made for a good energy though and the band usually played a chunk of songs with no pause which kept the energy high. The kleine zaal, when it's full, usually gets pretty warm anyway with so much body heat trapped in a small space, but on Tuesday it got downright muggy with all the sweat being produced. We left hot but happy.

Also on Tuesday I finally got the package of info for Australia that I've been looking forward to for ages. It took much longer than normal to get here from the US, about 2 weeks, which made me worry that it'd gotten lost. Not all was well when it arrived however: in the package were vouchers for a transfer from the airport and for two nights stay in a hostel. But they'd been booked for Sydney, not Melbourne, and Melbourne is where I'm headed. So new ones will have to be sent, which isn't the end of the world, I fortunately have enough time before I leave to get them, I was just rather peeved that they didn't pay attention to where I was going.

Erika and Karl tied the knot last Saturday, and now they are off on their honeymoon, so we are again taking care of the lovely, slightly portly, occasionally very noisy, Coco. Actually at the moment I'm taking care of him cuz O has up and left me to go to Prague for a week. Ok, I couldn't go because I'm saving my money and holidays, but still, I haven't been to Prague either, and also O reports that it's like 35 degrees there whereas here this evening it probably rained about 35 mm. Bastard, getting to have some summer... Anyway, the cat is keeping me company. Earlier he climbed up on my shoulders and sat up there for 10 minutes or so. It makes him happy. I just took this photo of him. It's this pose that lead to us calling him "Jabba the Cat."

I don't remember how it came about, but O and I also came up with the nickname "Voluminous Girth," like an extra-fancy way of saying "big boned." I wanted to get a photo of him in loaf shape, but he moved when I got up. I called the other, skinny cat "Lumpy Loaf" when he sat like that, but Coco I call "Wide Loaf." He definitely shows off his voluminous girth in that position.

July 12, 2007

6 1/2 weeks is not enough time

I'm suddenly feeling the press of how little time there really is before I leave for Australia. I thought things would be pretty quiet after this week, once a friend's wedding was over, but instead the weekends are filling up fast with plans for dinners and such.

Besides the wedding this Saturday, O's mom is coming over to ours for dinner on Sunday. Then I thought I should try to see O's brother and his girlfriend before I go, so there'll be dinner with them at some point. I'm having a party before I go, but one friend can't make that, so we'll have dinner with her one Saturday. Another dinner is planned with another friend on the same weekend as O's and my anniversary, for which we'll go out for dinner. Yeesh. Granted, this still leaves most weekend days free, plus O is going to Prague for a week starting next Thursday, so I'll have some evenings to concentrate on Australia stuff, but it all filled up so fast, I hardly knew what happened.

I still don't have my package of Australia info, which includes my visa. It's taken almost a month to get to me thanks to it being returned to sender for some reason that is lost on me, and then it was sent again to an aunt of mine, but it's been a week and a half so far since my aunt forwarded the package to me and still no sign of it. I realized yesterday that maybe the 4th of July holiday in the US delayed it more than usual, but if I don't have it by Saturday, I'll be really worried.

I did however finally receive my Moo cards, which I plan to hand to people I meet on the trip so they have my email address. It took a week to get here from the UK, but when it arrived I saw the likely reason for it taking so long: Moo didn't put the postcode in my address. Yeah, that doesn't help things. But I'm very happy with the cards, they're very cute.

July 7, 2007

Ramblin' Rambleweed

An hour of my evening was wasted because I came home from town and discovered that I didn't have my keys. O wasn't home, he was in the center having drinks with some guys, so fortunately he wasn't far, but I had to go straight back to the tram and go all the way to the Dam and back. Not happy with myself, but it could have been worse.

Last night I went to a book reading with a friend and beforehand, to kill some time, we popped into Esprit because she wanted to look at some clothes. While I was waiting for her to try on a shirt, I spotted these on the sales rack:

I instantly knew I had to get them, I've been wanting cute Mary Janes for awhile now. The only thing that I'm kind of iffy about with them is that they have wooden soles. I've never worn shoes like that. It's a bit weird since the sole doesn't bend, but I hope to get used to it and to break in the leather a bit because otherwise I absolutely love them.

So yeah, the book reading. It was Pete Jordan reading from his book, Dishwasher, which is about the years he spent washing dishes all over the US. I hadn't heard of him or the book until I got an email about the event, but it sounded interesting so I decided to go. He was a really nice and sweet guy, plus he lives in Amsterdam now, but he also lived in Portland for awhile, so there's sort of that connection. The reading, as well as the Mexican dinner before and ice cream after that my friend and I had, made for a laid-back but lovely Friday night.

Regardless of the weather, it is summer technically, and that means tourists flooding Amsterdam. I really felt it today, everyone around me was reading a map or guide book and walking at a snail's pace. It's one thing about this city that I'm already tired of and it sucks to know that it's not going to go away or get any better (I suppose it's like the city's neverending road and building construction; no, you never will be able to walk around a scaffold-free Amsterdam). I'm thankful I don't live in the center, but when I go there I hate feeling like there's no locals left anymore.

The tourists do seem well trained on how to get on a tram though... too well trained. I suppose they've been yelled at so much (or told by guide books) to board the tram at the next-to-last door that when an older tram came along that you actually do board at the back, they all headed to the wrong door. I'd still like to shoot either the person who designed the newer trams or the person who decided to buy them, because that conductor placement is just one of the things I hate about the newer trams (I know, they're not really new anymore...) Oh well, since they're made of plastic, they'll likely have to buy replacements again in a decade or so.