Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Lost in Translation

So I was ill, coughing a bit too much, and a little bit of a fever happening on the evening of the 24th, along with a few other symptoms...

Come morning of the 25th, Silvia tried to call a Doctor but there wasn't one in the area, so instead, the hospital sent out an ambulance (what?!) to pick me up and take me to the hospital, I felt like the most worthless human being ever for that 40 minute drive, "Ambulances are for an emergency" is all I kept thinking. Having two Italian nurses with me who could only say "Where born you?" and nothing else in English didn't help.

When we finally got the Hospital, I was wheel chaired into a waiting room, where Silvia walked in a few minutes later. Now I was really confused. Why didn't she take me here in the first place? Turns out she didn't know where the Hospital was and so the Hospital had sent the Ambulance. (Google Maps???)

We waited for about 10 minutes before I was wheeled into another room where my details where taken down, again, very few questions were asked me and practically nothing was translated to me, so I just sat there wishing I could speak even a smidgen of Italian!

Then the wheelchair was taken away and Silvia and I walked to a new room where I had to lie down, my blood was taken, my heart was measured (at least that's what Silvia told me afterwards) and then I went to an X-ray room where after being asked 5 times if I wasn't pregnant, they seemed not to believe me, my chest was X-rayed.

We waited for about 20 minutes for the results and then it came back that all the tests where fine and that there was nothing major wrong with me. After that they switched back to Italian and I was lost, so what is Actually wrong with me I still don't know.

I was subscribed an inhaler thing to take twice a day for a month and then told to leave. But not before they put a 305 euro bill on me.  Silvia was outraged at this, so in the car I learnt a few new Italian swear-words, and she has said that she'll need to drive to Follonica (the nearest big town, about 20 minutes drive away) to find out why it was so much. When I returned to Punta Ala, everyone was shouting "WELCOME TO ITALY" to me, so obviously word about the price had already spread.

Later that day, Cristina went to get my prescription from the pharmacist but then she came back with something different, saying that what was prescribed was really strong and that she felt this would be better. The pharmacist had agreed with her, and having no idea what any of it was anyway I didn't really have a choice about it... only problem is that this medicine is a 10 day thing and the one I was subscribed was a 1 month thing to stop it coming back again... so yes. I am truly Lost in Translation.

Today I was supposed to go to the local Doctors to double check about the medicine, which I thought would be a good time for me to get some answers, but then the Doctor didn't come in to Punta Ala today, so we'll try again tomorrow I guess. No idea really though, as I still don't speak Italian...

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to Australia and America even more now, as even though I'll be further away from home etc. at least I'll speak the language and will understand what is happening to me!

Sticking in there,
Lucy xxo

P.s. I still haven't had my first ride, unfortunately but then I think once the event on the 3rd is over, things will calm down a bit here and there'll be more time, plus hopefully by then this whole Hospital-Drama will be over!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Beach

Here's a video update of my time in Italy so far:


In other news, a film crew in Cleveland, USA, have gotten back in contact with me, so it looks like now I am  going to the US again! Hehe, but not to Hawaii like I first thought. But there will be a trip to L.A. like originally intended. Anyway, while the video was uploading, I watched the sun set, but now it's cold and so dark I can't see my keyboard, so I best go,

Bye bye,
Lucy xxo

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Italian Stallion

This is my 5th day here in Punta Ala, and so I've already gotten most of the names of the horses and ponies down. I think I know the routine of this place now, at least the basics, so I'm getting to grips with things.

This is my bedroom
The corridor to the kitchen and bathroom
The cabin where Cristina, David, Antonio and I live
The stables where the horses sleep
There are 15 horses and ponies, Voltan who is Christina's (my boss) own horse, Fifi, Apollo, Pink, Victorian, Penny, Honey (who is actually a male), Penny and her mother, one the same colour as Honey but female and with a hurt leg so she's always in the stables at the moment, then there are 2 horses and 2 shetland ponies who nobody knows their names. Lou the other pony who is allergic to a lot of things.

The one with the bad leg




Penny's mum



Horses are rather curious.
Honey, Penny, Victorian and Pink
Then of course there are the other animals. The two male kittens Orazio and Alpha (Apha was the bigger one at birth but now he's actually smaller and the less adventurous one) and the big German Shepard (whose still pretty young) Beppe.



Alpha chased up a tree by Beppe

Alpha and Orazio in my bed curled up next to me
My day starts at 7.30 am when my alarm goes off but I don't need to get up until 8 am, so I lie there for a bit to wake up. 8.30 am and I start cleaning the horses, filling up their water bowls and if Jessica is there we take it in turn to 'Work' them. This entails making them run around in a big circle around you, first one way then the other. I got quiet dizzy the first time as you have to turn with them, haha

Where I clean the horses
If I finish early I have a break, (like the one I am having right now), if I don't we all break for lunch at around 1 am. David, 24, another English Workawayer whose been here since November and is staying until the summer, cooks as he has done a Chef course and has worked in 5* restaurants in London. Needless to say I am being VERY well fed here. Though I doubt I need to worry about weight as all my work entails exercise and being outdoors all day long, every day.

The weather here
After lunch, nobody really does anything major until the horses have to come back in. 4.30 pm on a bad weather day, 5 to 6 pm when it's sunny. This is the point where I have to scoop a lot of poo... isn't actually all that bad, I think I'm going to have Hench arms when I'm done here! We take the horses into their separate stables and then head inside ourselves. Dinner isn't usually until 8.30 pm so you have some free time again. It's pretty relaxed really, but I still feel like I am helping out.

Probably one of the reasons I haven't really explored the town much yet!
Christina is putting on a few future events (one of which I am here for, the Endurance Race on the 3rd of March) with the nearby Golf Club, Sailing Club, and her Polo Field so she needs to come up with a logo for the three.. I had a doodle around and came up with this, what do you think?

Anyway, I better get back for lunch, byeee

Lucy xxo

Monday, 18 February 2013

Carnival Video

As said, I spent my free time in Pisa creating this video of my time in Cologne. Then I sat outside a Cafe in Punat Ala to upload it (the only place with both internet and a socket to charge my laptop):


I hope you like it, I'll try and write a blog about Punta Ala, but that might take some time as the only internet access I have here is by this Cafe!

Till then,
Lucy xxo

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Pisa, Italy

I arrived at Pisa Airport at 2pm ish. There were some seriously good views from the plane, having a window seat and all, we flew over Germany in the clouds, then Switzerland and the Alps, which we could actually see and then over Italy, we actually sort of went in a semi circle over the sea to get to Pisa, so there was a really sweet view of boats on turquoise water, with the Italian Coast up ahead.

I got off the plane and had to smile immediately because it was so much warmer than when I got on the plane in Amsterdam, it wasn't hot or anything but walking through town to my hostel with my backpack and suitcase meant that I could walk around in a strap top and be fine. THIS is the kind of winter I want!

My hostel was pretty nice, I had a 4 bed girls dorm, with one girl already in there, she was half Spanish and half French but lived in the South of Italy as far as I could tell, her English Accent was a little strange so I didn't quiet understand all of it! Two Italian girls joined us later around 11 pm but they went straight to sleep so we didn't talk much.

Once I'd checked in, sorted my stuff out and had a little breather, I decided to head into town and explore. Pisa is really small, especially for such a famous place, you can walk from the Airport to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in about 40 minutes, my hostel was half way between (http://www.hostelpisa.it/).

So I had a ponder in the local super market, saw some ruined castles, some old buildings, went to take a long look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, got a rubbish tourist shot and then went and got Pizza in a restaurant. The tomato sauce and the pastry of the pizza were a lot better than your standard English Restaurant Pizza, but the toppings were nothing new.

I went back to the hostel, watched a film (My Week with Marilyn; I really liked it, scarred me a little though, as I relate a little too much to Marilyn in some aspects) and then fell asleep. Check out was at 10 am, so I put my suitcase in their luggage room and then set up my computer in the common room. I have 3 old blisters from Carnival and one big new one from walking around in Pisa so I thought I'd give my feet a rest and just chill until my train later today (15.10, Pisa to Follonica where my hosts are picking me up). It's sunny again today, which is nice for when I go and get some lunch later on. Until then I thought I'd update my blog and make a new Youtube video about Carnival 2013.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Chinese Dinner

For all my food loving readers out there, I thought I'd share another place you might not know about in Amsterdam. Tonight my parents and I went out for Chinese dinner. Although it wasn't actually what I was thinking of when thinking "I fancy Chinese" - it was very tasty. We went to a place called "Uncle Wong" on 'Albert Cuypstraat' (http://www.unclewong.nl/)

Martin Cunnington, my father.

Dad's choice: mixed meat.

Mum's choice: Kon Po Chicken with Cashew nuts 

Shared choice: Temple Vegetarian Dish

My choice: Crispy Pork
Each one of these dishes, except the vegetables which was actually a "half portion" came with a bowl of either steamed rich, stir fried rice or noodles. There was also an assortment of strange ice creams for pudding, but we were too full to try any.

I'm packing now so see you in Italy,

Carnival in Cologne

Thursday morning I got up at 8am, to be at Bob's Youth Hostel by 9am, we ended up leaving at around 20 to 10, and while Mika (An Australian girl coming with us to Cologne) ran back to get her jacket, we decided it would be better if George got the train to the airport instead of us driving there and then to Cologne as it was likely that he wouldn't make it. I payed for his ticket (he'd bought me drinks on a previous night) and we said our goodbyes. Tom, Dam, Mika and I got the tram to the Park and Ride, paid the dude behind the counter and then CRAMMED into the car....

Mika, from Sydney
Between 2 and 3 hours later we arrived at Anna's house. Mika called 1 million and 1 people to try and take her to Munich the next day but failed, so Anna helped her find the cheapest train possible. In the mean time, I showered and got my Devil-Angel gear on. Dan borrowed a Monk outfit from Anna, Tom decided to wear his Monkey Onesie and Mika though she'd go in her PJ's. We split, so that they could set up their tent, and vowed to find each other again by using Tom's walkie talkies. Safe to say that plan failed as soon as the drinking began. Anna and I went into town, met some of her friends, including Kadn from Camp, dressed as a penguin, and then headed back to a pub near where Anna lives. The place was so packed, and everyone was in costumes, it was real surreal. You had 60 year old pirates mixing with 18 year old flowers.

In the end Anna and I ended up going clubbing for a couple of hours before heading home. Unfortunately we  got the train in the wrong direction and ended up in the middle of no where at 2 in the morning. We hung out with a Banana and a Cowboy for a bit before realising there wouldn't be a train, so Anna called her boyfriend to come and rescue us. While we waited, some cousin Princes approached us, which was funny, but overall it was just absolutely freezing!

The Fairy and the Devil
Friday morning, Tom and Dan came over again to return the Monk costume, stuff their faces, tell tales of the previous night, to get the Walkie Talkie back and then to take me to Cologne Main Train Station to meet my Cousin, Marlene. They drove us to Marlene's hotel and then we parted ways (they're off through Germany a bit and then to Prague eventually).

When we got into Marlene's hotel room, we were greeted by several Austrian guys at the window opposite, facing our window, who'd clearly already had a few, and thought it was brilliant that they could see us through their hotel window. After ages of trying to get the window open (it was jammed), we got ready and then met some of the guys down in the lobby. We went for a walk to get food and ended up eating posh pizza with them. (They were all dressed as Pilots, I was a Hippie and Marlene had a massive bow on her head.)

Having gotten to know them reasonably well over dinner, we decided to head out together as a group to the Clubbing Region of Cologne City. I think we went to about 7 different clubs throughout the night before heading back to the hotel. Friday night was a lot of fun and it was great to meet Marlene so spontaneously. If all goes to plan, she'll be popping up again some time later in my blogs in some other unknown place!

Emanuel from Austria

Saturday morning started around 9 am, Marlene and I walked through the town until we figured out how to get to the Main Train Station again. (There was a parade on even at this time and it was funny to figure out who had just woken up and who was going home!). At the station we got McDonalds for breakfast and then ate a Berliner (you're supposed to have one of these at Carnival, they are like donuts filled with jam but 1 out of every 10 is filled with mustard - it's the gamble of Carnival.)

Marlene and I parted ways, she met with her boyfriend and went back home and I got the train to Anna's - just in time to get changed, hug Rachael and Colm who had arrived the previous night, and then head out all together in a big group with Rachael, Colm, Anna, Victoria, Rebecca, Kevin and Kadn to the local parade in Porz-Wahn. Basically the day consisted of standing in a large crowd of dressed up people getting sweets (and teddies and full blown chocolate bars) thrown at your head (ouch) from large tractors driven by even more dressed up people.

Colm as Harry Potter the Priest, Rachael as Where's Wally,
Victoria as a bird, Kevin as a Leprechaun and me as a Leopard

Sophia from IC11

Colm, Rachael and Kevin
After the parade, we all went to Vicky's house (except Anna and Kadn who went to a private birthday party) and ate pasta with her parents. Rachael and I went back to Anna's and the rest went clubbing.

Sunday morning was a slow one, we stuffed our faces with breakfast, slowly got ready and then went to the Coffee Shop - Brando at a nearby town.
(While waiting in the cold for the train: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCVkvxZSsHM&feature=youtu.be)
Rachael realised she had too much money so practically bought the whole selection of cakes and muffins available for us, so we stuffed ourselves full even more! I had a Snickers Latte, and it was just as good as last time.

Thank you Rachael Mole (look see, I mentioned you!)

We went back to Anna's, got ready for the night, this time I was Luna Lovegood, Colm was Harry Potter, Anna was a fairy again and Rachael was an Army Chick. We went to a 16+ club because Rachael and Rebecca are still 17 and it was one of the most expensive and worst clubs I've ever been to. Still some how managed to sort of have a laugh, mainly at the very poor DJ and at the clearly not even 16 years of age audience. Some slightly famous guy came and performed some Carnival songs at one stage, which I guess was fun, but I sure am glad that I am now over 18! We went home earlier than intended and fell asleep. Colm and Rachael had to leave the house by 8 am on Monday morning.

Rebecca, Rachael, Kevin, Vicki, Colm, Anna, Kadn and me.

Anna and I ended up watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and then Part 2, before I hurriedly packed and left for the Main Train Station. My train was 30 minutes late, which meant that I had missed my first change over, which meant at the second station I had to wait for 1 hour in the cold, which then led to me having missed the last tram once I got to Amsterdam 4 hours later, which led to me walking home, which led to me taking off my shoes because they hurt so much, which led to me waking up with 4 HUGE blisters on the bottom of my feet - yum.

But hey, overall, it was SUCH an epic weekend and it was so so awesome to see everyone again, especially as I think it'll be a longer time this time before that happens again... So yes. Off to Italy on Friday, my first workaway experience, hopefully when I get back I'll be able to ride a horse again. Maybe I'll even know a phrase or two in Italian! Wish me luck. And I'll try and keep your posted as to what exactly I am doing.

Lots of love and wishing you safe journeys,

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Mine and Colm's hands, Rebecca's face.

Applications in Amsterdam

I have been in Amsterdam for 3 weeks, sorting out my life (plus a weekend trip to Cologne for Carnival which I will post about later). I had University Accommodation to apply for (which now turns out doesn't actually open until like June), Student Finance Applications to fill out (which I am doing today), then on top of that I did a hell of a lot of research into Australia.

So if you are thinking of heading over to the other side of the world like I am, here's a few things to help you.  Get the "backpackerpack" from Backpackerpack.com - it's just under 30 euros and it's really good. You get a map of Australia and a CD of really useful information such as average grocery store prices, dangerous animals to be aware of and help with your Visa application. It's designed for people who are going over on a Working Holiday Visa for 12 months but it's useful for people like me, just going for a couple of months, too.

Apart from that, it's worth checking out workaway.info - sign up for around 20 euro for 2 years and have the ability to search the world for places to work for food and accommodation. Great for people only on a Tourist Visa! (This is how I got the opportunity to work on a horse farm in Italy, which I am going to this Friday- 15/02/13) So yeah, useful for more than just Australia. However I have found that replies from Europe are a lot faster and a lot more positive than those from Australia. The other thing to think about is, you only get as much out of that website as you put it. Make your profile page approachable and write personal messages to Hosts instead of copying and pasting, it get's you a lot further. On average, for every 10 messages I send out, I get replies to about 5 or 6.

A similar website to consider is http://www.wwoof.com.au/ - this one is specifically for Australia, however you also can get country specific websites of the same scheme, e.g. http://www.wwoof.org.uk/ for the UK. I have not actually signed up to this myself as I don't really see the point, having already signed up to workaway, but it is the most commonly spoken about website when travelling to Australia. This can also be used to get a Second Year Visa when on a Working Holiday Visa.
(A Working Holiday Visa can be used once between the ages of 18 and 30, you get 12 months of Australian Sun and you are allowed to get work just as you would in your home country. These days, there is the chance to get a Second year, this is done by doing at least 3 months of voluntary work that wouldn't usually be completed by an Australian Citizen. E.g. WWOOFing or some Workaway!)

Lastly, if you are travelling alone like I am, it might be worth your time to check out Travbuddy.com or www.travel-buddies.com these are websites designed for solo travelers to find people interested in going to the same places that you are; meeting up, sharing advice etc. So yes, obviously you are meeting up with strangers through this, but this can be done safely - be aware of the danger, always meet in a busy place, don't commit to travelling cross-country with them until you've at least spent an hour chatting face to face. But remember that everyone was a stranger once, my best advice is to follow your instincts!

But enough about places I haven't been to yet. Here is a little about Amsterdam that you may not have known about. Dan, Tom and George (people I know through my best friend Abigail) came on a road trip through Amsterdam for a week and we did some exploring.

Tom, Dan and me

Apart from the first night, where we all camped in the freezing cold, they stayed at http://www.bobsyouthhostel.nl/ which turned out to be a pretty cool place. Word of warning: they encourage you to draw all over the walls and you can smoke in the common room. So that might be a GREAT place for some, and an AWFUL choice for others. Up to you there.

The Ann Frank Museum is in Amsterdam for those of you who didn't realise. (http://www.annefrank.org/) Now every time I've been past there's a HUGE queue so I've never been in, but one of the guys we met at the hostel said he went on a Tuesday mid-afternoon and the queue was very minimal. So I guess, go at a really random time!

The Sex Museum - you can't go to Amsterdam and not experience the sexual history so you might as well head to the museum. This is probably a good place even for people who don't like museums. http://www.sexmuseumamsterdam.nl/index2.html - We went, and it was 4 euros entry, you guide yourself round and although, obviously, it's all about sex, porn and prostitution, I didn't find it sleazy or gross. (There is a section at the end which is a bit more disturbing, but there are warning signs and you don't have to go in) Overall it's very well done. So don't be afraid to check that one out!

The Red Light District. Now I remember the first time I went to Amsterdam properly (with Abigail and Becky in the Summer of 2011), my mum told me that we should avoid The Red Light District, being 17 year old girls. However, it turns out that most of the night life is right along the District, it is perfectly normal for Tourists to be walking down the road. There are a lot of pubs and sights to see, the only thing to avoid is taking pictures of the girls in the windows, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, this is probably because they see it as a threat, you, being a beautiful woman, are on their territory and are distracting their male costumers. This is their job, so be respectful.

That's all for now,
Lucy xxo