Monday, March 13

Balance

It's been brought to my attention, albeit in an inoffensive way [Hi, David {Clark}] that most of the entries I've done lately have been a bit negative.

It's really not how I meant it to sound at all. In fact, I've been having the time of my life ever since I started travelling, almost two years ago. After all, if I wasn't enjoying myself, I wouldn't have kept going for so long.

Looking back, the main reason that most of the stories I've told here are on a lower note is that the good times don't make for stories that are as interesting. For instance, for the last couple of weeks my afternoons here in Spain were mostly spent on the beach.

Still, I'm going to use this entry as a recap of some of the good times that I've had in the last several months.

One of the first things to come to mind is the Balkans. Perhaps it was the contrast of how war torn the countries were, and yet how hospitable the people are. Staying with Berengere [From France, but she's teaching French in Bosnia] for nearly a week in Banja Luka, before travelling with her to Sarajevo was one of the nicest parts of the trip. The problem is that I'd have a hard time explaining why. Even though she was working in the day [she works at the French cultural center], we would usually meet for lunch, and then go to a bar with some of her friends in the evening, as well as others that I met through the Couchsurfing service, such as Ivana and Alex.

The hospitality that I was shown by Zlatan in Beograd was second to none. I mentioned this before, but I wasn't alone at any point for the whole time I was there. For five days straight, one person would drop me off with another of their friends when they had to go to school or work, who would then continue showing me around. Novi Sad was much the same way, where I stayed with Slobodan. We also hung out with Dragana, [another] Ivana, and Sonja. Then there was Ivan in Podgoriza, and Tim in Prestina, both of whom showed me the best parts of the their cities, places that I never would have known about on my own.

While in Sofia, I stayed with a girl named Milena, who also showed me a great time. We spent most nights sitting around discussing everything from American politics to cat psychology. Plus, Ivo, a friend from Montreal, gave me the phone number of his cousin Rali. She and another cousin, Dodo, showed me a great time, giving me a tour of Sofia and some of the surrounding areas as well.

While in Moldova, staying with Irena was wonderful in more ways than one. For starters, she showed me some great areas of Chisinau, the capital. But most importantly, she gave me advice on how to stay out of trouble, as the country can be very dangerous for tourists.

While in Istanbul, Aylin gave me a very nice tour as well. She was very nice, and helped to make me feel more relaxed in an absolutely massive city. It's by far the most hectic place that I've seen. At the same time, the culture was the most diverse that I've ever seen.

I should also mention Mirta in Zagreb, Luba in Bratislava, Mirechka in L'viv, and, well, I could go on for ages. I think that you're starting to see where I'm going with this. By far, the best part of travelling is the people that you meet. And I've been lucky enough to meet some that are absolutely amazing. Yet as I said, it's hard to capture it in a forum such as this. It's one of those things that you have to enjoy for what it is. It's very hard for me to communicate the feeling or the memories to other people. Even pictures don't help that much. It's enough to have pictures of the people that I met, but to show them to other people can't communicate what those in the picture meant to me.

As for what's been going on since the last entry, it's been mostly spent at the beach with friends, three of which are named Sara, all from Sweden. Most of my friends here seem to be from Sweden. The reason that so many of the students come from there is that the Swedish government is one of the only ones in the world that offers low interest loans to it's youth, so that they can learn languages in other countries. When I was taking French classes in France several years ago, most of the students were also Swedish.

Something that struck me as a bit odd was that my roommate, Mark Olivier, who moved in last week, turned out to be from Laval [only a few kilometers from Montreal]. I'd been told that he would be Dutch, and he was told that I would be American. It's funny how things work out. Though I doubt that he'll be staying long. He's not getting along with the landlady at all. She's a bit... well, touched. So I make it a point to stay out as much as possible. He's been a bit more confrontational. Usually, I would be as well, but there really isn't much point. Neither of us is fluent enough in Spanish to be able to get our points across, and even if we could, I don't think that logic enters her head very often. He's also getting very annoyed at the parrot, which is usually squawking at full volume by 8am. Some sick bastard even taught it a bizarre, diabolical laugh. It's along the lines of a kooky mad scientist from one of those cult science fiction movies. I'm not sure how much longer he'll last. Still, many of our class mates seem to have even worse living conditions, so as long as things don't go even farther down hill, I should be able to last until it's time to leave Spain.

On a bit of a side note, the landlady's name is Dolores De Los Rios. Translating it word for word, this means 'Pain of The Rivers'. Maybe her mother didn't like her...

This weekend I took a trip to Valencia, a city a few hours north of here. It turned out to be a great vacation from my, er, vacation. I stayed in a hostel, where I met a very nice German girl named Wiebka [pronounced like Vipka]. We walked around the city all weekend, and had some very nice conversations, which were all over the place. Everything from German politics and demographics to the meaning of life and our lack of any long term life plans.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah sure Ian, hit a man when he's down... You know I wrote that email after a heavy drinking session down at the pub, and was a bit melancholic. Still, it's nice to know that the reason you typically relate the negative things on your blog is that the positive bits of your travels get a bit repetitive. E.g. So I went here, and hung out with girls. Then I went there and hung out with girls. Oh, I detoured via this place, and hung out with girls. I got stuck thataway for a while, but it was okay because I hung out with a nice girl. Now I'm hanging out at the beach with some Swedish girls.

You're right: the only thing that'll accomplish is getting all your friends who are trying to finish their theses and not enjoying it, and living in cold grey places, annoyed at you. In fact, from now on, please get back to reporting only the annoyances!

Cheers!
David

11:01 PM  
Blogger ian said...

well, i'd put it more as the trip has been great because of the people that i've met. it's true that the majority have been girls, but there have also been some super cool guys that have helped me out, to name just a few, Zlatan in Belgrade, Ivan in Montenegro, Slobodan in Novi Sad, Tim in Kosovo.

but it's true that the blogs are a bit too negative. if what i wrote came across as being sarcastic, it wasn't meant to be at all. from now on i'll try to be a bit more positive.

good luck with the thesis. if it makes you feel better, sooner or later i'll have to go back to school as well, and i'm sure that when i do you'll be the one roaming the globe :)

4:00 PM  

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