Author Archives: marek

Byron bay

today we decided to head to byron bay, which is a beach town with a beautiful beach attached to it.

 

We got there and found some breakfast. I had an egg white omelet with spinach,  cheese mushrooms and caramelised onions, which treated a lot less healthy than it sounded, to my delight!  Then we set off along the beach.

It was quite busy,  there were a lot of surfers in the water. finally I got to see what all the fuss about surfing was about. Our 2 hour lesson didn’t really cover what the end goal of learning to surf rewarded you with. it looked much more fun than what we were getting up to, and a lot more difficult.

We headed further, to the “eastern most point of Australia” where I became entranced by the waves rolling in and crashing against rocks, marveling at their raw power and feeling very small. The others had to wrench me away so we could get back in time for the barbecue at our host’s house back up in gold coast.

Isn’t that amoyzing

yesterday was the christening. There was a little bit of panic with the ozzie grandparents of the baby who were hosting the party. We went to a posh boys boarding school Chapel to have the actual christening. It pissed it down all day pretty much. party was ok. We went for a walk afterwards then had sushi and a family argument for dinner!

today we hired a car and went to currumbin wildlife sanctury with Annette’s toddler neice. finally,  I thought,  I would get to see some kangaroos bouncing around,  but was very disappointed to find that they were just lying around,  dozing, surrounded by food.  It was as if they were all hung over. You could feed them but they just weren’t that interested. They were quite funny though, and I did see one of them do one bounce.

There were a bunch of other things like tree kangaroos, who seemed quite depressed. it was incredible though to see these rather large creatures precariously sat ontop of delicate palm trees, taking a nap.

After that we had an amazing lunch of barramundi and chips at a fish and chip shop in Burleigh Head, then off to springbrook national park to see some nature. This consisted of driving down a narrow Road for a mile or so, then getting our and taking in the view from a “lookout” then getting back in the car to reach the next one.

one such lookout was called “best of all” lookout. We got there,  and what we saw instead of the stunning valley we knew to be there,  was a dense covering of cloud. We did find another good lookout into the Valley though,  from which we could see 5 or 6 different waterfalls which kept me happy.

Boards and Bugs

today we went surfing for the first time since we were kids. We went to a part of town called surfer's paradise and got some lessons. The sea was toasty and it was unpleasant to get out.

Then we back to the house to bake a cake in the shape of a monkey for the christening party tomorrow and then went out for dinner at a posh seafood restaurant. All five of us ordered barbecued moreton bay bugs which are like mini lobsters or giant languistines depending on your disposition. delicious.

Anticyclones

Today I crossed the equator for the first time. That means that there's an entire half a planet's worth of places to explore. Not that i've seen many places in the northern hemisphere and only ever got to really know a small handful of those very well.

We flew from London to Brisbane via Kuala Lumpur, of which we only really saw a small part of the airport and its fairly standard array of duty free shops and overpriced eateries.

8 hours later we arrive in Brisbane and are met by Annette's brother, Seb,  who took us to his inlaws house in gold coast which commands a spectacular view of the city (shown in the pic). We've been up for a good 36 hours so nighty night over and out.

We slept with the windows open and got woken up by the most exotic bird calls i've ever heard.

Canarial

2012-12-14
Woke up very early after going to bed very late having imbibed three xmas parties in one evening. Got to Luton with plenty of time to spare to catch our flight to Gran Canaria. The flight was quite long but bareable seeming as it was on Ryanair.

Got the car, a nice little red 2 door Citroen. As usual I was petrified to drive it. Before getting it we had to stock up on caffeine and sugar in the form of mentos as we were feeling pretty dead after the flight which was about 5 hours long Stalled quite a few times as it was my first time in a manual car on the wrong side for me…

Got to the rented villa after some drama on the Canarian motorways. It was amazing. There’s a pool. I jumped in but it was far too cold so got out straight away. The weather here fluctuates between pleasantly warm and tolerably cool. Tepid, in a word.

2012-12-15
Had a look around the place we’re staying at. The neighbour is a vet and has 3 donkeys. A grandma, a mother and a daughter. The vet has organised that tomorrow a donkey stud should come round and impregnate them. Kind of weird. Wonder if any of them will get jealous and cause a rift in the family. There are also goats, and two dogs which roam the grounds. We met Rosa, the owner who was an old granny, the “matriarch” who showed us her home and her son’s half-rebuilt Porsche 911 in the garage.

We went to a market in a place called San mateo. There was some amazing produce. We found miniature leeks, and bergamots , which is what earl grey tea tastes like. They’re little things that look like miniature lemons.

We bought loads of groceries then went for lunch in a cafe and ordered some stuff we couldn’t translate and ended up with onion rings chips, chicken wings and other fatty things. Not great.

After that we headed back to the house, via Santa brigida, another town which was much prettier. We dropped off the food and set off for las palmas, the capital town/city of the island.

We got there and walked along a part of the coast where you could see the sunset. It was a bit touristic there though. There was an old punk band playing along there, a bit too cheesy to be enjoyable though.

We went and had dinner at a place the vet recommended to us. Had this local dish that translates as “old clothes” which is chickpeas and shredded beef. The chickpeas were like none I’d had before. Tough on the outside and squishy on the inside.

The rest::
One day we found a caldera called “Bandama”, and walked down into it on a sunny day. We found a big rock at the bottom of it and lounged on it for a while. One thing that struck me was that instead of grass there was giant clover, and there were cacti and palms everywhere. Quite surreal. We picked some prickly pears and got prickled a lot more than we bargained for.

On another day we went on a drive with Javi and Eugenia, our airbnb hosts. They drove our car because they didn’t feel safe with me driving (although they didn’t put it that way). We went to a farm to pick up a dead sheep (for eating), and a cheese. This woman made the cheese on the farm, which was on top of a hill looking over the sea in the middle of nowhere.

The rest of the holiday we spent lounging, eating and daring eachother to jump into the freezing pool.

On the last day, we decided to go to the south of the island to see the sand dunes. As we got nearer to our destination the architecture turned from pastelled rickety houses, no two the same, to huge time-share blocks and shops selling various mutations of inflatable floatation devices. It was all very depressing. We decided to try to make the most of it and go for a walk along the beach. It turned out to be a nudist beach with lots of saggy german flesh to avert our eyes from. Then we went back to London

Hawaii

I went to Hawaii for 2.5 weeks after a particularly gruelling freelance job. I wanted to go to the Pacific before I reached 30, so this was my token attempt. It is beautiful there but very american. Here are some notes I made there…

2012-08-22 11:00
Lhr->Honolulu longest day ever! It’s so American unfortunately.

2012-08-24 04:14
Spent day wandering Honolulu. Ate japanese food, saw some weird plants. Went to beach

2012-09-01 20:02
Staying in an amazing hostel in the jungle. Got my own cabin in the wilderness.

2012-09-03 11:00
Hiked in the northwest of the island, along a coastal path, and then through a ravine to the waterfall. Swam under it. Overwhelmed by its power

2012-09-05 04:44
Went sea kayaking for 17 miles. Hottest day in Hawaii yet. Got sunburnt on my feet. The views were amazing, and it was a pleasure to fall into the warm sea.

ZAK, Baby

After Hawaii, I got back to London for half a day, then got an easyjet to krakow, then a 2 hour bus ride to Zakopane, the alpine capital of Poland. It’s quite fairytale there. All the houses are wooden and have very pointy roofs. Found a bar in the centre if town and sat with a beer until Annette and her family turned up. We went to a traditional restaurant across the road. It was insanely cheap and we ended up ordering way too much food, thinking that each item on the menu was a la carte, only to find that they were all pretty much full meals.

The next day we went for a walk in a valley with lots of rivers and waterfalls tucked away. The next day we went hiking along a mountain ridge. We lost one of our party but couldn’t call because we were in a dead spot between Poland and Slovakia. Move 5m one way, you’re on the Polish t-mobile, 5m the other way your on slovak telecom.

The day after that we went to Morskie Oko (“the eye of the sea” – a big glacial lake in a valley on the border again. We climbed right to the top of the ridge and could see down into all the surrounding valleys with dramatic views of lakes and forests.

The day after that, Annette and I went to a waterpark that was heated by geothermal energy. Good quality waterslides. The best one was only 10m long but went straight down at 45 degrees. Super fast.

After that we met some of the rest of the guys in this bar in the middle of zakopane. It was pretty rough and ready, the menu had drinks all priced at 80 pence. One kind of beer. One kind of vodka, one kind of wine. Then there were 5 dishes you could order all £1.40. Conveniently communist.

Long Beach Love

25/02/12
Arrived in LA at 3pm yesterday I’m here for work (at TED). It’s pretty boring so far. All I’ve seen is hotels and carparks with american food places everywhere. Went to “Hooters” last night and what surprised me was that (a) there were a lot of female customers, and (b) the waitresses looked so young. It was much less seedy than I thought it would be – almost Disnefied.

26/02/12
yesterday we went out to get lunch in Long Beach, looking for something healthy, found a mexican place that touted salad. It was full of cheese and sauce, and came with nachos. I felt sick. You can get these huge sheets of beef jerky for $2 from 7/11 so I’m happy.

On the walk back from the mexican restaurant, I saw these 3 things within about 5 minutes of eachother.

(1) a black boy on a bicycle who cycled on the pavement and every time he got to the next crossing he dropped his bike and started doing a crazy dance while he waited for the lights to change, complete with personal soundtrack.

(2) A really fat old woman, leaning over a dustbin eating chicken wings out of it. With sauce all over her face. It made me want to cry both kinds of cry.

(3) A really tall pro-african preacher guy shouting n**ger every other word at the top of his voice.

There were a lot of hobos out at lunchtime.

LA is so clunky. Maybe that’s just a generalization. It could be just Long Beach. People are friendly to eachother as if they’re reinforcing eachothers’ self confidence, as if they require it desperately. The food is clunky, the cars a re clunky, the money is also clunky. Everything is priced in dollars, rounded to the nearest. Clunk.

ho hum.

Hello! It’s been a while, as usual. The only reason I wanted to write here is because I haven’t for ages.

This summer I went away a lot for work, but also went to Italy on a short holiday for a christening. It was in the vatican. Pretty bizarre experience. We were late (classic Roman traffic jam), and ended up running through st. peters cathederal suited/stilettoed frantically trying to find a christening. It was pretty a-religious which made it bareable. Then there was a posh vatican feast, they treated us pretty well.

Then we got the sleeper train from Rome to Venice, which I thought would be really fun, but in actual fact, the compartments are about a metre wide, no windows, and only a blue light to keep you company. To top it off, it’s not actually that long a journey, so we arrived in Venice at 5am with no sleep.

That said, Venice at dawn on a cloudless day must be the best time to see it. Everything was golden and empty. We spent one night there and had a good wander.

So, now it’s November. I had a birthday party on the day of my birthday. I decided to cook american themed food, and bought some fireworks (4th July-style) to entertain the guests. Some of them fell over. It’s a really small garden where we’re living, and there were about 10-15 people there, so it was like being in front of a firing squad. I saved the biggest firework for last – one of those cubes with loads of different fireworks in one. As soon as I lit it, it fell over, and everyone panicked, but they were like deer in headlights, I had to scream at them to get indoors. Wojtek stayed outside and got shot at quite a lot. I managed to get hit in the face with a bit of smouldering cardboard but nothing serious.

The instance that was over, I was standing in the garden speechless, coming to the realization that I’d just tried to kill all my closest friends, and they all came out with a birthday cake (that Yoon baked) and sung me happy birthday. It almost felt like “You’ve been framed”. Pretty bizarre experience. Surprise!

The best present I got was from my sister (although I actually asked for it when she asked me what I wanted for my birthday). It’s a waterproof iPad case so I can read my books in the bath!

Up until a few weeks ago, work has been crazy, and now, all of a sudden its totally stopped. I have a few bits and pieces, but really, I’m pretty free. I’ve been turning down jobs still, because none of them are what I really want to do. I just want to dick around for a while. I can afford it, until the end of the year or so, so I’ll probably do that, unless something cool comes along.

A couple of weeks ago, the last job I did was presenting myself to a bunch of people at a well known distillery of whiskey in the scottish highlands. It was totally a marketing event, but it was nice going there being treated to nice food (and whiskey, of course) chatting all day, to interesting people, exploring the distillery, and then getting paid for it at the end of it all. Of course I had to set up some interactive installations in the freezing cold, but that was fun to. More things like this please!

Back, again

Hello, again. Japan was amazing, see the photos on flickr:
here
and
more here if you can be bothered.

I got back from Japan, then I worked, then I had Christmas, then did some more work, then went Snowboarding (but that was for work) in Laax, which is in Switzerland. It’s a pretty awesome resort – it’s mostly for snowboarders, so there’s loads of jumps and stuff to slide on or grind or whatever. Didn’t get that much of a chance to have a go because we were working, but definitely enough to get my fix.

Then about a month later, I went again with Wojt and a few of his friends, to Les Arcs, which was great, we had great snow. It was the first time I’ve ever been to a catered chalet. The chalet girl who was supposed to be cooking for us was useless at cooking, we ended up asking if we could do it ourselves, which she didn’t seem to take too badly, and she would sit and watch TV whilst Claudia and Wojtek would be making dinner. Much tastier.