Saturday, March 19, 2011

Land of the Emirates

To break up the trip back to Australia I decided that instead of going straight home (which would be just too simple) I would make a stop in Dubai for a few days.
I’m not really sure what to write about Dubai. It’s a very… interesting place. I had no expectations or prior knowledge of the city before I went but from looking at a map I was getting ready to skip the metro and walk because everything seemed to look so close. Yet after taking a metro to the hotel and seeing the sheer size of everything, I put my walking shoes away because unless you want to walk for hours, it’s near impossible to get around Dubai without your own car or a taxi.
Having said that if one has sufficient money to stay in one of the big hotel chains like Sofitel or Hilton, one need not leave the vicinity of the hotel complex at all. In Australia I guess I’m used to a hotel having a pool, maybe a sauna and more often than not, a restaurant. So forgive me for thinking that a “hotel” that contains 6 high rises, its own beach, a water park, shopping centre, numerous restaurants of varying nationalities and several nightclubs (all of which require you to take a buggy or boat to access) seems a little excessive.  Luckily for all the plebs who can’t afford to stay in said hotel chains, all of these extravagates are open to the public.
In addition to the mammoth hotels, the buildings in Dubai are incredible. I’m fairly sure majority of architects there are suffering from “Small Man Syndrome” because every building is a weirdly shaped monstrosity, designed to outshine its’ neighbour.

Dubai seems to lack any sense of fixed culture. There is such an obvious distinction between the rich and the poor and it’s not uncommon to be in a restaurant or shop where the staff outnumber customers.  I found it hard to relax in Dubai because it felt like the lower class locals have been repressed and forced into working for minimal income in jobs that ooze consumerism. I have no idea if the city itself has always been this way but it seems to me like the Middle Eastern culture has been pushed out of the city to allowed expats to feel more at home.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The real Fasnacht

Last weekend we went into Lorrach for some more Fasnacht festivities. I can now understand that the last carnival events we saw in Lorrach were just warm ups for the big festival to come and that this was the real fasnacht. I'm judging this by the amount of confetti we collected. Last time, there was confetti scattered around the apartment upon our return. This time we had to seriously de-fetti before we went inside, taking off layer upon layer of clothing to get at the confetti that had managed to lodge itself into every available space- including underwear. Yet, puddles of confetti still managed to materialise around the apartment for the few days after the parade.
My camera and I can probably take claim to most of the confetti we acquired considering I insisted on taking photos of the characters and their fantastic costumes. As soon as I saw one of them make "eye contact" with me (you can only really guess where their eyes are, let alone where they're looking) I knew we were in trouble. They would walk up to the barrier, stare you in the face, then either take off the beanie, dump a handfull of confetti on your head and put the beanie back on, or just simply shove handfuls of confetti into your jacket/shirt/hood/pockets/any other place capable of holding confetti, then walk away. You may be able to understand just how many times we were attacked with confetti if you notice how many photos I have looking into the faces of characters!
There were times when I could literally feel confetti dripping down my back, and any movement I made would send off a shower of colour.

24 hours in Zurich, an old friend and a lesson learnt.

OK OK, I'm sorry. I've been slack. I've just been sooooo busy you know... with, stuff.
Without divulging into too many details, after relaxing and experimenting in the kitchen (aka: being lazy) for a week in Lorrach, Germany, I bit the bullet and booked a trip to Zurich for a night.
I had been doing some high class facebook stalking and discovered an old school friend of mine living in Munich, so I invited her to surf a couch with me in Zurich. Our couch hosts took us out to a club in Zurich, and while they danced Kristy and I caught up on the past 5 years.
Sitting on the couch together we were approached by 2 charming young men. Naturally, like old times we did the ol' "fake name, fake age" trick, (I'm Sarah by the way, I'm 26) which backfired when they stole my wallet... I don't think they liked me much, I didn't see them or my wallet again. Pity really.

Anyway, Zurich was lovely, and I learnt that if I'm going to give a fake name I should probably hold my wallet a little closer to my chest. It's a dead giveaway when none of the cards in my wallet say Sarah...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Counting down

On Monday, after umm'ing and ah'ing for about a week, I finally stopped delaying the inevitable and bought a flight back to Australia.

I decided that if I want to be able to roam Europe without too many hassles in the long term then it needs to be done, so why wait?! My Schengen visa is due to run out on the 8th of March, so naturally, using the agreement to its full potential, I booked flights for the 8th- Basel to Brisbane (with a 4 day stopover in Dubai) which will bring me home on the 13th of this month... so soon I hear you say? I know right!!
I was never one of those girls that missed home, but now that the decision is made, I'm starting to get really excited about going home, even if it is only for a few weeks!! All those little things like sunshine, warmth, vegemite, friendly people on the street, english spoken everywhere- no matter how dodgy the shop looks or how old that lady is- and let's not forget family and friends... oh yes... you know who you are.

On another note, here in Lörrach, after over a week of gloomy grey skies, the sun decided to show its face. And what a beautiful face it was... These are some photos I took today, mixed with a few I took at christmas on the same walk... can you tell the difference?