Challenge On!

With 2014 just starting and new adventures about to begin, I thought I’d revisit a post from travels past. My intention is to crank up ye ol’ blog and start writing again. I hope you enjoy it!

I didn’t want to like Balzano!
Bolzano with the Dolomites behind
Bolzano gateway to the Dolomites

Bookings had already fallen through and I could tell the instant that I left the security of the train that I was going to have to think. Welcome to Italy!

Crossing the Alps
Crossing the Alps

I had just enjoyed fabulous snowy scenery on the trip from Munich and I didn’t want the dream to end and so it was with some trepidation that I walked back from the lampost and into the wardrobe.

There was nothing wrong with the square outside the station so I walked around it… twice.  Where was the promised 10A bus as described online by the only hotel with a room still available? Where was the tobacconist who could sell me a ticket? Where were any directions at all?

Autumn dripped everywhere
Autumn dripped everywhere

I found the bus stop for 2,3,5,6,7 &11 and there were taxis nearby but I wasn’t quite ready to accept defeat this early in the game… so I continued to search for the 10A stop. I walked around the square again dragging my bag in that typical tourist dance before finding myself back at the station. Ok, I’d give them a second chance!

Success!  Tobacconist found, I requested a ‘ticket autobus’ and the woman behind the counter asked ‘where’?

I had no idea really but responded by showing her my ‘10A bus’ online note. I think she then signalled the town centre. Well, her finger moved in a circle around an imaginary city centre… or stirred a fictitious pot. ‘Si! Gracie!’ said I and paid a couple of euro.

With such a success and feeling on a roll, I thought I should ask again where I could find the 10A bus. Actually, I showed her my note again that clearly stated 10A autobus.  She looked at me blankly… obviously she sold tickets and not directions and so I left with my insecurities clearly intact.

Streets and alleyways are lined with quality shops for every desire
Streets and alleyways are lined with quality shops for every desire

I walked outside to a now very familiar looking square and confidently walked in the opposite direction convinced that miracles can happen if you look at life from a different perspective. Zap! I came to the taxi rank. Defeated? Yes, I jumped in a cab and was at my hotel in five minutes… passing the illusive 10A bus at its stop on my way.

The hotel didn’t really speak English. Hmmm, and clearly I didn’t speak Italian until 3am and after several reds. They also did not have tour brochures. I then discovered that the whole town does not have tour brochures or in fact, tours at all.

Apparently… that’s its charm! You discover it for yourself. A whole new kind of tour where you make it up and have to think!

Challenge accepted!

Chestnuts roasting on a cold Autumn day
Chestnuts roasting on a cold Autumn day

The next day I woke at the crack of noon and wandered back into town to find the markets. I wandered slowly, shifting down a gear to soak up all the rich colours and intruding aromas. Strolling down the promenade of speciality shops, I smelled the leather and imagined myself draped in poise and charm… just like all those beautiful intimidating women I saw around me.

Medieval castle overlooking the valley
Medieval castle overlooking the valley

Eventually (don’t ever believe an Italian map) I found the modern art gallery and was so underwhelmed that I decided instead to give my art history side a go and visit a medieval castle with murals dating back to the 12 century. Smart move! This was wonderful!

Rustic charm
Rustic charm

The bus had dropped me at the bottom of the hill so I climbed the obligatory cobblestone pathway past hillside vineyards to the castle entrance where I drank my fill of medieval  dreams and lifetimes before dining on three different kinds of dumplings and local wine and deciding to amble back along the riverside with autumn dripping on either side and with snow-capped mountains painted into the background.

 
In Bolzano, I drank the best coffee of my life, dawdled over beautiful wines and historic art, enjoyed wonderful food in a mediocre hotel but I also had the chance to imbibe the locals for two bella days and niotti in Northern Italy. Sometimes, no matter how hard you fight it, you just get lucky!

 Yes, I had to think!  I might try that again one day!

Ode to Munich

(Sung to The Twelve Days of Christmas)

 
And we'll celebrate and buy another beer!
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!
On the first day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“We’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 
On the second day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!”
Glockenspiel dncing figures
Glockenspiel dancing figures
On the third day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!”On the fourth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please, Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 

Five golden mass... well here's three of them
Five golden mass… well here’s three of them
On the fifth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage, Three pretzels please, Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 
On the sixth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Drink till the last drop Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage, Three pretzels please, Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 
On the seventh day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Sing and dance together,
Drink till the last drop
Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
Sing and dance together
Sing and dance together
On the eighth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Jump up on the chairs,
Sing and dance together,
Drink till the last drop
Five golden mass…
Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
Go to the beer hall
Go to the beer hall

On the ninth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Go to the beer hall, Jump up on the chairs, Sing and dance together, Drink till the last drop Five golden mass…

Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 

 

You wear a dirndl
You wear a dirndl
On the tenth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“You wear a dirndl,

 

Go to the beer hall, Jump up on the chairs, Sing and dance together, Drink till the last drop, Five golden mass…

Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
We'll get ledenhosen!
We’ll get ledenhosen!

On the eleventh day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“We’ll get lederhosen, You wear a dirndl, Go to the beer hall, Jump up on the chairs, Sing and dance together, Drink till the last drop Five golden mass…

Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
Oktoberfest is party time!
Oktoberfest is party time!

On the twelfth day in Munich,
my new friends said to me,
“Oktoberfest is party time!

We’ll get lederhosen,
You wear a dirndl
Go to the beer hall,
Jump up on the chairs,
Sing and dance together,
Drink till the last drop
Five golden mass,
Let’s order sausage,
Three pretzels please,
Scrap the glockenspiel,
And we’ll celebrate and buy another beer!” 
 
 

THANK YOU MUNICH! THANK YOU FAMILY! THANK YOU NEW FRIENDS HERE AND OLD FRIENDS BACK HOME … FOR ENCOURAGING ME AND HELPING ME TO ENJOY THREE OF THE MOST INTERESTING MONTHS OF MY LIFE!   

PROST!

Bohemian Rhapsody

‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality
Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see….’
Freddie Mercury
 

Prague Bridges
Prague Bridges

All I could hear reverberating with every step were the words from Queen’s infamous song…. until finally all those voices in my head joined in one brilliant operatic crescendo!

 

‘(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Figaro’.
Oh the joys of my own personal karaoke!

View from the Old Square
View from the Old Square

Prague (Praha) is the capital of Bohemia and must be one of the most picturesque cities I have ever visited. It’s winding, cobblestone streets draw each visitor into its world of ancient cathedrals and fairy-tale castles adorned with magical spires.

Indeed, Freddie! Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see… Oh, what a site!

Bohemia has an area of 52,750 km² and is home to 6.25 million of the Czech Republic’s 10.3 million inhabitants. It is bordered by Germany, Poland, Moravis and Austria. When visiting Prague you might spend a night at the opera and think of Freddie, although I decided instead, to spend an evening with Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi in a cathedral along with some new German friends I had met on the train coming up from Munich.

Changing of the Guard at the castle
Changing of the Guard at the castle

The next day, I joined another group at the castle to watch the changing of the guard and to gaze from the ancient stone walls.  ‘I’m easy come, easy go. Little high, little low’ The city unfurled below like an ornate blanket embellished by mystical towers and crowned by bejewelled turrets. A short stroll down the hill brought us to a local restaurant hidden amongst the vines where, on such a lovely day it just made sense to stop and enjoy a goulash and red while the world wandered by.

Cathedral
Cathedral

The river Vltava flows through the middle of this age-old city and is crossed by seventeen bridges.

Looking up to the castle and Charles Bridge from the river
Looking up to the castle and Charles Bridge from the river

The Charles Bridge is the granddaddy of them all and in the middle of the day it is cluttered with hawkers and tourists so a cruise under it with mulled wine seemed a great solution. I returned later one evening to stroll across the bridge when I didn’t have to share it with quite so many.

To complete my bohemian experience I travelled to the beautiful township of Kutna Hora.  From the 13th to 16th centuries the city competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. It is easy to see why this precious treasure hidden away in the countryside was declared a UNESCO heritage site since 1995. Cobblestones, courtyards, cathedrals, churches and cemeteries were all fascinating but nothing could prepare me for the Sedlec Ossuary!!

Ossuary Ceiling
Ossuary Ceiling

Macabre decorations on the walls and the ceiling have been created from tens of thousands of human bones. Henry the abbott and Frantisek Rint were an interesting team! Bizarre!!

Ossuary Decorations
Ossuary Decorations

It even has its own happy little motto: ‘What you are, we were! What we are, you will be! ‘Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very, frightening me!’

I’ve always thought there was a bit of bohemian within me. I really enjoyed my journey in this part of the world and I can’t wait to return one day… maybe one Christmas when I can toast Good King Wenceslas with gluhwein.

‘Anyway the wind blows… doesn’t really matter to me… to me.’ (fade)

Wanderlust

‘She soars with eagles and navigates by rainbows’ Lesley Hazleton

Soaring with eagles in Budapest
Soaring with eagles in Budapest

I like to live in the moment and I find that nothing brings me into the present better than travel.

Margaret Mead, anthropologist and world wanderer observed that the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep and therefore knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily and to appreciate our own more lovingly.

Long lunches with new friends
Long lunches with new friends

My favourite aspect of travel is experiencing new sounds, sights and delights of different cultures but meeting people in those places and making new friends adds excitement to a destination.

‘Travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.’ Miriam Beard

Top Tip Towards Terrific Travel

As part of my quest for world peace and in the pursuit of real happiness for all travellers, I’d like to suggest that men and women never travel together.

Why?    

Well, according to my research (chatting with fellow moment livers during recent wanderings), I discovered that females look at the small details to make their travel experience unforgettable…. while mostly, men just turn up!

Enjoying the views
Enjoying the views
Exploring back streets and laneways
Exploring back streets and laneways

 What Women Really Want…                                    …Why Men Turn Up

  • Accommodation with stars                               * Roof on building
  • Welcome drink served on arrival                      * Minibar stocked
  • Dining experiences                                         * Food available
  • Vegetables (meat optional)                              * Meat (grease optional)
  • Fine Wines                                                      * Beer
  • Meandering along cobblestones                       * Map committed to memory
  • Finding new friends                                         * Mate attached
  • Optional extra tours                                        * No decisions
  • Slowly strolling museums                                 * Pubs open
  • Unlimited exhibitions                                       * Bartenders awake
  • Unhurried evenings at concerts                        * Stadiums accessible
  • Chocolates on fluffy white pillows                     * Sleep (bed optional)
  • Turn down nightly                                           * Turned down daily
  • Extra leisure time choices                                * Extra bars
  • Shopping at thirty paces in every direction.       * Last minute souvenirs at the airport

Listening to Symphonies
Listening to Symphonies

 So… it is suggested that on arrival at the airport separation must take place until the end of the travel period. If holidaying in the same vicinity then paths may cross occasionally but interaction should be kept to the evenings.

Painted evening skies
Painted evening skies

Hmmm… maybe this is my opportunity to start a travel company with tours designed just for women!

What do you think?

‘When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.’ Susan Heller

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world. It is held annually in Munich, Germany and over 6 million people are expected to attend during its 16 day run.

Oktoberfest - Early in the afternoon before the crowds arrive.
Oktoberfest - Early in the afternoon before the crowds arrive.

In 1810, Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Theresa of Saxony and so the happy townsfolk held a party in a large field to celebrate. It was so popular that they held it again the following year and have ever since in that same field named Theresienwiese. It originally was held during October but the Wiesn began to start in September in 1872 to take advantage of better weather.

A parade to welcome the beer
A parade to welcome the beer

 It now begins with a traditional parade of draught horse drawn carts hauling in the beer, accompanied by women dressed in dirndls and men wearing lederhosen.

Traditional Dirndl
Traditional Dirndl
Dirndles & Lederhosen
Dirndles & Lederhosen

 

Apart from beer tents at the site, there are food stands, rides and so many interesting people to watch… oh, and family day is held once each week.  2010 is the 200th Anniversary and… the rest, is history!

What’s it all about?

Well, for most people…

“It’s about the Bier!” 

Making New Friends
Making New Friends

Beer gardens, beer tents and beer halls all offer a ‘mass’ which is one litre of beer and a whole lot of fun! There are no difficulties in meeting and making friends. In fact, I felt no barriers from age, sex or nationality… everyone gets along!

Hmmm, I’m thinking that maybe these Germans have stumbled upon the solution for world peace!

The Bier Tents are not ‘tents’ but more extravagant timber constructions decorated with thousands of kilos of hops. Each one takes months to construct and are rebuilt every year.

Inside a beer tent
Inside a beer tent

Entering a huge bier tent for the first time is awe inspiring! I have only ever seen crowds like this at the Olympics or maybe at a great stadium rock concert. But the meaning of the word ‘crowded’ was redefined when our group finally landed ourselves in one late one night. This ‘tent’ was full and jammed packed with at least 8000-10000 people standing on their chairs, singing, dancing and drinking along with the band. I don’t think there are any laws about maximum occupancy so they packed us in and closed the door… wall-to-wall, a sea of happy sweating swaying people!

At the very end of the night everyone rolled out the door and wandered down to a train where we once again were patiently packed in like sardines and distributed home. The most amazing thing was that during all this time I didn’t see one fight and everyone stayed happy!

Now, THAT’s what I’d like to bottle and take home with me! Or better still… how about attendance in a beer hall be made mandatory before all sessions of parliament… or attendance at the UN!

Prost!
Prost!

  Prost!

 

 

 

 

 

The Intrepid Traveller

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.  Hilaire Belloc

I believe the most fulfilling consequence of travel is the opportunity to immerse myself completely and enjoy a different culture. As this visitor in another country however, I am constantly surprised at the change that overcomes me as I begin to assume a new identity and for some unknown reason do things I wouldn’t dream of doing at home. The intrepid traveller emerges from within and I become this invincible tourist, naively enthusiastic and totally unaware of any danger!
One of the many spectacular views from the winding road up to the Eagle's Nest
One of the many spectacular views from the winding road up to the Eagle's Nest

Towers taunt me to climb them to the highest heights and mountains become challenges that must be scaled. Why? Why can’t I just be content with flying over them? Where did this inner mountaineer come from? I don’t enjoy heights any more than I do exercise. They both scare me.

And yet during my most recent Bavarian treks, I have ascended the Zugspitze, climbed St Peters’ tower and soared to the Eagles Nest!View-below-from-St-Peters-Tower 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover! Mark Twain  

That's not a smile! that's hanging on very tightly at the top of the tower
That's not a smile! that's hanging on very tightly at the top of the tower

Thanks Mr Twain!  You inspired my newly acquired Teutonic temperament and this week I felt compelled to climb the tower of St Peters in Munich to get a view I could quite easily have found on the internet. There were 306 steps… or was it 360? I lost count around 200 while I had my heart attack!!  

And so the question remains… why? Why do I have a need to walk in these footsteps of the robust and brave? When I’m at home, I don’t even walk up the street.

Not having learned my lesson, I joined a strangely, trippy, little tour group to the Eagle’s Nest. We follow our guide like mindless lemmings onto a specifically designed bus that winds six kilometres up the knife edge of a mountain. The views are as spectacular as they ride is terrifying but finally we are dropped at the entrance of a tunnel.This eerie passageway leads us two hundred metres straight into the mountain to a circular marble holding room that is lit by candles.

Entrance from the tunnel to the elevator waiting room
Entrance from the tunnel to the elevator waiting room

On the opposite wall is a heavy doorway and we wait. Finally, the golden doors slide open and we enter the original elevator and ascend one hundred metres directly into the Eagle’s Nest.

Propoganda Photo of the Eagles Nest
Propoganda Photo of the Eagles Nest

I’m told that this building was Hitler’s 50th birthday present from his favourite mates in his very own inspired Nazi party. What a guy! What a present! What a party!! Explains so much… totally insane!!!

I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered myself.  James Baldwin

As part of my new emerging character I begin to hanker for the local ‘look’. Store front mannequins kitted out in traditional costume lead me to imagine occasions where wearing a pair of lederhosen could be the hit of the party. What’s with that?

Lederhosen
Lederhosen

 I don’t ever wear shorts… hmm, then again…maybe it’s the leather!

Thanks to travels past, my family and friends have glimpsed previous passing personalities when I have returned bearing gifts of colourful cheongsams, vividly highlighted happy coats, tastefully painted clogs (definitely an oxymoron), traditionally embroidered Romanian shirts, regional smurflike hats and one amusing mandarin skull cap with lengthy plaited pigtail attached… to be fair, my youngest child was not quite one year old and just couldn’t run yet.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. James Michener  

There was also a period of time when I cooked cabbage rolls for a month determined that the whole family should delight in the distinct flavours of Eastern European cuisine. I can’t wait to serve up some of the 1500 different German sausage tried and tested: bratwurst, leberwurst, zwiebel mettwusrt, rindswürste, rotwurst,knackwürste, bockwürste, leberkaese, frankfurters, nürnberg sausage and everyone’s all-time favourite weiβwurst. I just know how excited the family will be!

Inside-CathedralI wander historical towns and ancient cities enthralled by the architecture of the exceptional and the anomalous. I was therefore quite surprised while eyeing the interior of a beautiful Munich cathedral when my thoughts turned from bricks and mortar and my newly emerging identity discarded my cynicism of Catholicism with gay abandon and pondered the possibility that just maybe the Pope might serve a higher purpose in our world. For what, I now ask? Turning rosary beads into a fashion accessory or for bringing back a new enthusiasm for long frocks, medieval chanting and kissing rings??

 

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. GK Chesterton

Interestingly, I live in a tourist area back home in the beautiful world heritage area of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. Often, I see buses passing by overflowing with tourists armed with flashing cameras. Apart from the amazing scenery, I often wonder what these people find interesting about our Aussie lifestyle, our audacities, our parochialism and our appropriated culture.

I can only imagine they have listened to the inimitable Mr Twain when he profoundly observed “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Or maybe they are just discovering their own intrepid traveller within!

On Top Of The World

“I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation” – The Carpenters

On the Zugspitze summit
On the Zugspitze summit

How wonderfully exhillerating is this breathtaking country and its people? Ahhh…Deutschland… *sigh*

 

View on the way up in the cable car
View on the way up in the cable car

The highs are so extremely high and unlike anything I have ever previously experienced.  I visited the summit of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain at 2962m above sea level, and it was one of those days I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It was like flying but with my feet still on the ground. No wonder I felt so tall!

I really didn’t know what to expect other than beer and autobahns in Germany but I most certainly didn’t think Frau Fiona would be flipped quite so quickly by this land of towering giants with their quiet and calm ways. I am in awe of their unhurried lifestyle, their politeness and their obvious respect for others. They are hard workers and yet it feels like every day is a weekend! 

Beer Garden in the Englisch Garten
Beer Garden in the Englisch Garten

One of Vincent's Sunflowers
One of Vincent's Sunflowers

Families enjoy long afternoons  in beer gardens together while others fill their days strolling art museums taking masterpieces for granted. Instructions are offered slowly and carefully to struggling tourists and once they realise I don’t speak their native tongue, they are more than willing to attempt mine or find someone who does.

I have one English mate here who is being taught one German word a day by his local breakfast stop. After happily living here for six months he’s mastered breads and pretzels and both he and his teacher feel he’s ready now to move on to cold cuts and sausages. This will take him well into 2012 but of course… there is no hurry in this land of the ethereal weekend!

A walk in the park at home
A walk in the park at home

“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons. I love her jewel-sea.
Her beauty and her terror- the wide brown land for me!” – Dorothea MacKellar 

There is no place like home!  Just ask Dorothea or even Dorothy and Toto!  

A comfort zone extension up to the summit
A comfort zone extension up to the summit

But… I came away to slow down and to enjoy a little out of comfort zone extension. I always enjoy a change but like most people, I will invest energy in recreating the familiar.

Rusty the dog likes to hang out with me and the ducks in the Englisch Garten
Rusty the dog likes to hang out with me and the ducks in the Englisch Garten
Currently, I find I am torn between the new and the old; who would have thought that new sites would contrast so starkly against old memories; that old events could give power to such new behaviours but most importantly, those old prejudices might be challenged by new acquaintances?
Who would ever have thought that I’d change my abstract ways and attempt drawing realistically in Kandinsky’s town!!
My God really does work in mysterious ways!
Danke Deutschland!

Chermin Tour Guide Speak

The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes “sight-seeing.””     Daniel J Boorstin  

I recently decided to take on my role as a visiting tourist seriously.

Yes, the time had arrived!

Bright Idea

Bright Idea
I was ready to step up!
But what did I consider to be serious hardcore tourist activity?
What was I to sight see? What was to be my next step?
Suddenly the light came on… thankfully, I looked above my head and noticed the flashing!
There was to be no more catching the beginner tourist’s Hop On Hop Off bus tour around the city. No more wandering these streets looking for circled attractions on my well-worn map. No more ambushing unsuspecting locals and requesting directions in English s-l-o-w-l-y, CLEARLY and repetitively, repetitively, repetitively.
Castle Neuschwanstein & Tourist
Castle Neuschwanstein & Tourist

I booked my first full day bus tour WITH a tour guide. Yes, I had decided that real tourists visit cliché castles hidden amongst picturesque scenery.

St Wolfgang Lake
St Wolfgang Lake

 Yes, it was time to join one of the herds and become a sheep shadowing one of those guides who holds a flag, brochure, flashing light or other symbolic signboard above their head. You’ve seen them before. They walk down winding streets, stopping on corners like a caring mother duck to gather their trusting charges and then disperse information about history, celebrity, sustenance or toilet availability.  

I have to admit that I did really enjoy my mother duck and was happy to take on the the role of young chick not having to think too hard… along with enjoying all that breathtaking scenery and fairytale castles.

But, I discovered, the most enjoyable part of my day was learning ‘Chermin Tour Guide Speak’. You may well ask, what is this new language? Please find below a few key phrases and conversation pieces translated and interpreted for when you become a tourist in Deutschland.

What I Heard: English Translation: Interpreted As:
Vive mint sdop onlee. 5 minute stop only. No time for looking, taking photos or chatting to a local.
U möost nut eet You must not eat This is only a toilet stop for the old guy up the front who can’t hold on any longer.
U möost bee un taim

You must be on time.                  

Be here 5 minutes before we are due to leave or the bus will go without you.
Vee arh er gröop. We are a group. You must think of others in the group and always be on time. You will be assimilated!
Ven eh voz sa göol… When I was a girl… Times have not really changed for the better since you tourists arrived.
Eet ees nut hie ut irl. It is not high at all What is not high in Europe is definitely considered high at home.
Zumtaims peepull cüm furmenny owtsed acteeviteez. Sometimes people come for many outside activities.

Outdoor activities… what kind?  I was expecting camping,maybe bunjee jumping…

Oohh…zueezide Oh… suicide Yep, that’s a great outdoor activity!

Auf Wiedersehen… until next time!

Where Has Woodstock Gone?

I don’t mean Charlie Brown’s little feathered friend.   

I’m wondering what has happened in the last 40 years since that well known three days of peace and music at Max Yasgur’s farm when Jimi played his version of that anthem and Country Joe and the Fish ragged on for a peaceful world while Janice sang the blues.

I was not old enough to attend Woodstock but I had owned the double album and believed I’d just been born on the wrong continent ten years too late. My old hippy heart loved the years in tertiary education during the 70’s when long hair and flared jeans were a poor substitute for a missed flower power time blown away in the wind. Protests against international conglomerates had been my meagre offering to the times that were a changing and… yes, I know Dylan didn’t do Woodstock… but he should have!

Growing old disgracefully

Growing old disgracefully

However, a few years ago, I decided that I should attempt to grow old gracefully and leave the outdoor rock festivals like the Big Day Out to my children and their friends and so it was with some ‘turning back time’ excitement, I recently delighted in the Taubertal Festival. This summer music festival is held in the tourist heartland of Germany and has about 15000 visitors daily with people coming from a variety of backgrounds from across the world to enjoy music over the three days.

Mud Mud Mud

While most of the crowd are younger people, it is not unusual to see family groups or even a few of us who remember Carlos Santana from his younger days. I felt quite relaxed amongst the sea of denim, queues at the loos, dancing and thanks to it being an outdoor festival… a little rain and a lotta mud. I had finally found MY Woodstock!

The music had changed with the times and instead of Baez and Cocker we partied with The Hives and The Prodigy. On stage arrogance and aggression impacted between bragging lights and blasting sound while off stage the collective paid due homage to their heroes.
The Hives
The Hives

 

I commented upon the peaceful politeness of the festival and was advised that behaviour at festivals back home apparently is quite different. Apparently, the peace, love and harmony are replaced with crowd fuelled fights and when drinks are spilt, as happens in a crowd, then bodies may be too! Why?

The Prodigy
The Prodigy

I love Australia!

I love our humour our brashness and our youth. I love that we think that we’re all grown up now. I love our harsh lighting because it shows our true colours. I love that we can do some things so well sometimes. I love that mostly, we are quite healthy, wealthy and fairly wise. I love our variety of backgrounds that have all contributed to who we are today. I don’t love Australia’s geographical distance from the rest of the world and yet I do in times of war or natural disasters. I don’t love travelling for ages to get to work in the morning but I do love that we have so much space that we may all have a piece of it someday. I don’t love politicians too much but I do love my right to support or knock any who dares to climb the ladder. I love being able to chop tall poppies.

I love our freedom; our choices; our richness; our openness!

Getting Along
Getting Along

We are a very lucky country and so I need to ask what has happened? Have we forgotten how great it feels to get along? Why are the contents of a cup worth more than the person holding it? Where are the peace, love and harmony at our festivals? Shouldn’t each generation build onto the positives and grow forth and multiply? Where has the essence of Woodstock gone?

Joe Cocker sang ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and Joan Baez sang ‘O Happy Day’. I think I’m going to listen to some old songs for a while.
Has Woodstock gone or is he just on holidays?
Has Woodstock gone or is he just on holidays?

Live Your Dream

“Anything worth doing… is worth overdoing.” – Mick Jagger
 “Everything in excess” – Fiona Steel
Who knew that Mick and I had so much in common? 
He has lips and I’d like some. He had energy and so did I once. He couldn’t get any satisfaction… oh well, two outa three ain’t bad …just ask Meatloaf!
 
I think our favourite strutting lips would agree with me when I say we should make the most of life and have no regrets.
Dare to dream!
Let’s play that cliché Aussie card here…’Ave a go, Mate!

Don’t you agree that life should be about actively participating and meeting new challenges? I think its great how life can offer up opportunities, sometimes unexpected and sometimes created. But, what I find really exciting is watching what happens when we have the courage to run with those occasions. Sometimes we win and at other times we win by learning from the experience.

Who would have thought that when five young men played their first gig together in a pub in western Sydney Australia, that less than two years later they would be playing at a three day music festival on the other side of our planet in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. 

Modern Error are these five young men who found an opportunity, worked hard together, played hard together and have heeded Mick’s advice ever since.

Modern Error
Modern Error

 

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

Modern Error listened to Albert!

They learned the rules of the game and took a win in every round of the Emergenza Band Competition against bands from all over Australia and New Zealand. This pinned them against the very best in a final battle for supremacy at the Metro Theatre in Sydney. Once again, the guys took Albert’s advice… and played better than anyone else.

Modern Error won and the first prize was ‘their best opportunity yet’.

They have been flown to Germany to play the ‘International Final’ at the three day Taubertal Festival. At 4:50pm on Friday 13th these five determined guys who started with a fledgling dream will put their heart and souls on the line. It will be their lucky day! While their friends are sleeping (or partying) at 12:50am Saturday 14th on the other side of the world, Modern Error will play off against other winning finalists from USA, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Japan and the UK.

We want to entertain, that’s pretty much it! Rock out as much as we can, hope that people have an awesome time and leave with a smile on their face” says Max.

Modern Error might be performing to thousands at a music festival but I know those smiling the most will be the handful of family members watching on… so proud and very satisfied.

Good luck guys!
Enjoy your experience… you are living your dream!
 
http://www.myspace.com/modernerror