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Today is Sunday. I am sitting in the office. Yeah, I am sitting in the office. Seems to have become a habit ever since I came back to the old continent.
Because it’s Sunday and because I should really relax I am trying to think of a continuity for this blog. Now that I am back from Down-Under it seems to be a bit pointless, doesn’t it? Obviously it can’t be about kangaroos anymore..neither can it be about SCRamjets..even though I am determined to persevere in this field until people will be calling me Dr. (SCRamjet) Petrache. 🙂
Leaving that aside, I was thinking about making it a journey blog. Because I have the intention of discovering some more parts of our beautiful Earth.
That being settled I wanted to write some sort of a bottom line thing about what this Australia trip meant to me.

Before I left I imagined going there like suddenly stepping into a movie. Now, that I came back I feel like I stepped out of a movie. It’s very difficult to explain. Even though everything there is functioning after the same parameters as here, it’s just different. Is like a double-sided puzzle: put the pieces in one order you get a ..something, rearrange them and you get a something else.
The general cliché about this country is that the people are nice and welcoming and very tolerant, due to the large flux of emigrants. That is totally true. And their “relaxation” is translated in a very pleasant working environment – I am talking here about the atmosphere at the University of Queensland, where I spent lot of time. The professor – PhD student relationship is much more different than anything I heard of so far. It’s closer to my taste, I would say.
Another observation would be that people, at least in Brisbane, where I spent most of my time, have absolutely no clue about what energy-saving means. In public buildings as the university or malls or even busses the air-conditioning is always running in the warm season, even when outside are just 25°C. When it gets really hot outside (around 30-35°C), inside is freezing cold (20-25°). The houses which don’t have this new supercool air-conditioning technology use ceiling-fans to get a small breeze. I think lot of the energy required for any of these cooling-techniques could be saved if they would just build their houses in a more reasonable way. Which brings me to the next point: houses / buildings construction. The traditional Brisbane house is made of some sort of thin wooden-panels, has at the ground level a parking space and rooms at the upper level. The concept behind the “empty” space from under the house allows the air to circulate. That is good for summer, but bad deal for winter when the average temperature goes to 10°C. The average Brisbane house also doesn’t have any kind of wall- or windows -isolation.
Being in Australia gave me the feeling of eternal holiday. The 2 months I spent there were among the most relaxing times I ever had. Even if heat can be a pain in the *** sometimes. I was really wondering if I could live in such a place for longer. Because being born in Europe, having lived in Constanta, Bucharest and Munich – which are relatively large cities – I was adapted to stress, I am always looking for something to do, somewhere to be.. Australia is a great place for a one year vacation, but is not where I would like to spend my young-adult life. Maybe except for Sydney..With this city was love at first sight: it has the beaches, it has the cultural life, it has the marvelous landscapes, tiny original cafes, the breathtaking skyscrapers, the diversity – to put it in one word – my soul would need to feed on.

In a nutshell, going to such a far away place is very educative. It gives you the chance to see that everything what you’ve been used to so far, even the smallest things like waking up hour or working habits, is not what “normal people do”. It’s just a consequence of geography and history. We are all a sum of what our ancestors chose to do. Even if you have learned this in school, maybe you haven’t really processed it, or even if you did process it, you haven’t fully understood it. And experiencing it opens a totally new perspective.
We have so much to lean from our own kind, that the human kind’s desire to reach other outer-space civilizations seems kind of ridiculous in this light.

New Year and forever after

I am a bit left behind with all the posts, that is because of my jet-lag..or just laziness.
Well, the passing in 2010 we spent at A. and M.’s place, with delicious food and just a few people. This was the time when I discovered the goose liver pate, from the French guy which is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my life. One has to combine it with the right white wine to make the most of it. Thanks to this nice French guy (or, maybe correctly said, to his parents), we also had that. I had never tried this kind of pate before and…mmmmmmmm…yummy!
At 12 we made our way to the streets and admired the crowd and the firework.. nothing really special.
Actually the entire evening was a bit short for be. My suspicion goes with the Gin some nice thoughtful German fellow brought, which seemed a very constructive solution to the “getting drunk” problem, but not as appropriate to the “stay awake” issue. So I was awaked by S. insisting that we go home. We walked home. 3-4km seems a good approximation of the distance. But, of course..I couldn’t really feel them. Damn that gin! Amazingly enough, didn’t really have any head aches or something the next morning.

So..the 1st of January was more like a resting and packing day, because on the 2nd at 2:45 am was our take off.
This was my adventure in Australia. Before I take a bow and go backstage in your applause, I will take some more time and space to put down some conclusions or other things worth remembering from this trip at the end of the world.

Trip to Redcliffe

We arrived from Sydney on the 29th and felt that wasting the 2 days until New Year’s Eve, wouldn’t be so nice. So, on the 30th, we caught the bus to Redcliffe, which is a holiday area notrh of Brisbane. I wanted to see the jetty. In the movies it is around jetties that all the important stuff is happening (like a meeting between two heads of mafia clans, deciding the future of a certain X person, two lovers making “for ever”-like promises to one another, son and father seeing each other after a decade and other similar things). What we saw, were a bunch of 60 year olds having their share of sunshine and another bunch of 15-18 year olds jumping for fun off the jetty in the area where it said “jumping forbidden”. Ah..youth! 🙂 Brings back old memories…
It was relaxing, except fo rthe fact the we took the longest way home, following the indications of an almost impossible to understand bus driver.
Oh and some time ago was saying something about being attacked by 2 butterflies. Well it happened again. But this time I got them on tape. Revenge! Muahahhaa!

From Sydney with love

These are the words buzzing in my head after we came back. This city is…let’s just say that if Europe would be half a globe closer to this place, I wouldn’t have any hesitation in picking this one as my home. I kept saying ever since I came that it would be impossible to try and describe it, simply because there are so many things which this palce awakens in me. But I will do my best to do just that.
First of all, I don’t mean to offend any people I met here in Brissie, but Sydney is so much more on so many other levels than Brisbane. It’s huuuge and it has .. lot of sea! I know it sound kind of stupid, but a good part of the city is composed by gulfs and beaches. Check Wiki for more geographical details. And people here knew to make the most of this fortunate situation. There are so many nice landscapes to discover. I was actually telling S. that is not really fair how some cities or countries get it all: beaches, mountains, cristal clear waters and so on.
Yeah..so what did I see? Well..Opera House of course. The glimpse of it just took a genuine „Woaaa“ out of me. It’s exactly as in all the postcards you see. Simply impressive through it’s architecture and location. Now..you will notice that taking pictures of it from the ground level is not an easy job. 😀
Neeeext: the Royal Botanical Gardens. Almost two centuries old. They are located close to the Opera House and are a gorgeous and relaxing walk. So many types of trees, lot of ficus (from the several species we saw there, S. re-named some 🙂 ). I always tought this country is friendly. Now I have the proof: in this place, where one doesn’t have to pay an entrance fee, they invite you to walk on the grass. There are indicators saying just that! Really!
The other really cool thing we saw was the Darling Harbor and the Pyrmonth Bridge, a very touristicky and commercial area, but again..extremly impressive through its immenseness. I kept thinking while on the bridge how would it be to climb over the fence and spread your wings and just go! Fly razor close to all the boats and water (producing the Coanda effect, hihi!), go between the 60 levels high skyscrapers, make people go „Wow!“ Just imagining this made me get the goose-bumps.
Also in this region we got to witness a nice band playing some cool blues in a bar. I got to hear „Let love rule“ sang by a funky blondie.
Chinatown – unimpressive. Just lot of funny talking people and strange looking (and tasting probably too) food. And also lot of odors. Not the nicest ones.. But went away fast. I kept connecting this region with scenes from an action movie, because looking up I could always see some obscure windows making my imagination go wild!
Now…there was a tiny inconvenient: the weather. S. thought Sydney is a very English city. I would agree..in terms of the weather. It was raining 2/3 days. A small, annoying rain which was not making the clothes wet, but just moisty. So we tried to overcome this by going to the aquarium. Sharks, turtles, dugongs and some cool anemonnas. The useful thing I got left with ist hat now I can make the difference between a male and a female shark..
The third day we had luck with some smiley sun so we got up to the 260m high tower to get the incredible panorama. It was breathtaking! As everything else in this city. Go there! Go!

Have a merry one!

My dear friends and readers,

Even if I am so far away from almost everyone I know and love, it still feels a bit like Christmas to me. I have S. and a bunch of nice people I will spend this nice holiday with. So it’s all good. 🙂
I wanted to wish you all a peaceful and serene holiday with the people you most love! Merry Christmas! Craciun fericit!

It’s jungle out there

I thought of reporting some funny incident from this morning.
Because the bio-garbage is outside in the backyard I had to get there to throw away the apple leftovers. Just after I put the slippers on, a small (15cm long) lizard just crossed my path. I screamed..actually I squeaked.:) Then I said to myself “Pfiu, just a harmless lizard!” Then..I got attacked by a pair of buttlerflies. Quite cute thse ones, but rather aggressive. I think I was on their mating way. I hmmed and moved on to the bin. But there..what do you know? There was a strange lizard / snake just getting its portion of sun. I found it disturbing because I couldn’t make up my mind what it was: moving like a snake, but it had legs. I guess I am just a bloody ignorant when it comes to all these species we don’t have in Europe. 🙂
So I started to sing “It’s jungle out there”..

Tonight we went to Mount Coot-Tha. This is – as the name says – a higher region located in Brisbane, where you can have a bird’s eye view of the city. By night is very charming. You can see all the pretty lights from down-town and if your eyes are good and no clouds are on the sky, also the Southern Cross and other constellations. I hanged a picture for this.

Now..there are some more pictures from our trip to the Stradbroke Island – pretty easy to identify.
The rest of three are..lamps. Today, because of a rain shower, we took shelter in the Mathematics building. There we discovered a funky room which designed as study place for students. Very interesting furniture, especially lamps which made the subject of the pictures presented here.

Tomorrow will probably be the last day I am going to the office, because on the 24th I have to bake the apple pie for Orphan’s Christmas. This is a special Christmas that 20 or so “orphan” people will celebrate together, because their mommy and daddy are far far away. Thanks to the initiative of Thomas and Wilsooooooon ( 🙂 ) and the courtesy of Jenny, whom I haven’t met yet, we will all have a place to enjoy Christmas together..and a pool. Yey! More details are to come, but this is pretty much what is expecting us on the 25th of December, in the year of grace 2009.

Stradbroke Island

It’s been a long time since I posted here. Back to any of my homes, people have started preparing for Christmas, buying presents, setting up the tree, etc. I miss that. But I’m not doing too bad either. 🙂
In this spirit, we went yesterday to the Stradbroke Island. It’s maybe two hours trip from place to place. Not that is so far away from Brisbane, we had to change one bus, one train (to Cleveland), one ferry (to Dunwich) and another bus to Lookout Point on the island.
This island is quite big (see the Wikipedia link) and is full of..nothing. There are actually two areas where people are concentrated: Lookout Point and Amity Point.
Arrrrghh! I don’t feel like giving all these geographical details about the place. The idea is that there is so much wild life there, is so quiet, just a few surfers or fishermen or backpackers. And the beaches!!!! Mmmmm… People back home have asked me “How’s the beach, how’s the ocean?” Well.. they are just perfect! On the eastern part of the island it’s the Main Beach which is…HUGE. Wide and incredibly long. Out of curiosity I checked last night on Google Maps and it’s never ending! It goes on for miles and miles. And yesterday I was actually tempted to walk for as long as I can along this beach hoping I would reach its end. Glad I didn’t do it. 🙂
What else? You will see from the pictures, the landscape is simply breath-taking. Some regions with very steep and beautifully carved shores. We were able to spot dolphins playing in the water, just a few tenths of meters in the open. It’s just impossible to describe how it feels to see animals in their natural habitat. Given the fact that most of the tourists are hypnotized by the Great Barrier, not many of them stop on this island. And that is great because it gave me the opportunity to breathe and enjoy the wilderness in all its splendor.

Back

I stayed low for some time because there is nothing to say. On Friday evening – Saturday morning S. arrived. I was pissed at Brisbane public transport because there is no connection with the airport after 8 pm. The only ways to get there are either by bus shuttle – which you have to book 3-4 days in advance – or by cab, having to pay at least 40$. Madness I tell you! From public transport point of view, Brisbane sucks! They go on assuming you have a car… Grrrr!
Well…but I was rewarded with a smile after all this trouble. 🙂
Then..Saturday..party at a fellow PhD student.
Sunday…walking through 35°C and lots of people in the city center. I actually discovered a very good ice-cream from Hungry Jack’s (Australian Burger King): is glazed in chocolate. Yummy!
Today was disappointment time when checking work results. Bleah!
What is funny is that I got to count the Christmas parties. There are no more than 4 we are going to go to. And, of course, all of them not Christmasy like, but with barbecue and beer by the lake or pool. Yabba dabba doo!

I gotta say..I do miss snow and cold, but I know I know..one always wishes for what they don’t have that is why I bought myself a new swimming suit. 😀

A trip to heaven – Part 2

I am not in the mood for writing – in 28h S. will be here 🙂 , but I promised to myself I will keep track of things. And it’s more like a moral duty to put down the few notes I made immediately after the boat-trip. Notes on the people I shared this experience with, because for me was nothing like I expected.
So, beside me, there were another 31 people on board of the New Horizon. The ones I remember are:
– the Swedish couple: quiet and nice. They were looking like they had been there from the beginning of the Universe. People you can rely on, calm, tender and warm. Simon – red headed, short curly hair. She – simple, harmonious.

– German people:
– she 1: black hair, big nose, on a quest for something around the globe after finishing her studies; a bit “I’ve been there, done that” kind of person, with a brownish tan.
– she 2: was actually Swiss, blond, easy going, 18, speaks French, English fluently, wants to become a doctor and go to Canada next year to visit a friend.
– she 3: nice smile, body, chestnut hair, naive
– she 4, 5: nothing special
– he + she 6 = love; Franziska – horrible horrible person with an always grumpy face. There is no trouble in Paradise, sweetie!
– she 7 – maybe 18, with a bandage wrapped around her swallowed left foot, always wining, drinks Cola light because of an “I’m fat” complex

– British couple: hairdresser + always drunk looking like guy. She: very friendly, bleached long hair, huge ring and necklace with amber, tattoo of a fairy around her ankle and another flower above her butt. I didn’t really understand if they were now living here or were just on holidays. He looked like an alcoholic, rather quiet though, with a tattoo on his right shoulder in the back (something tribal). His feet were dirty all the freakin’ time! I would say they were both around 25 years.

– Irish couple: her name I don’t know but it surely was something like Annabelle or Anne Marie. She simply looked like that. I liked her in the beginning. Curly blondish – dyed – hair, friendly. Then..things changed. I don’t know why. Just not my kind of person. She was putting on make-up for crying out loud! On the ship..in the middle of the ocean..gloss..mascara and some fancy thing for the eyebrows! Wtf? And her boyfriend was as stupid as a rock! Worse than two donkeys – as we would say in Romanian. He would always go “Fucking fucking fuck!”. But their accent was irresistible. Listening to them jabbing was like listening to Merry and Pippin from Lord of the Rings. 🙂

– another Irish chick: unimportant. Just that she was small, long eye lashed, very sharp face, had a ring with a green stone, green round earrings made of some textile. Was reading a very thick book treating it horribly.

– 4 Spanish people – 2 couples: I think the “he”s were brothers. One of them very hairy, curly, with cool sunglasses – John Lennon like, tattoo on the back of his shoulders. Did I mention he was hairy? 🙂 His girlfriend – Beavis look-a-like, with long face, lot of hair (they had to match, right?), without an ass, quiet. The other guy a bit less hairy, kind of like e cartoon character. His “she” was short but good looking, black straight hair, ALWAYS talking. They somehow pissed me off because of their inaccessibility. Whatever.

– German guy: Jonas. Looked like the base player from Limp Bizkit without the make up..meaning..a bit ridiculous. With a beard, but without mustache, a small pony tail, smoking a lot of Marlboro red. He had the attitude on a cool uncool guy, if you know what I mean.

– 2 British HOs: she 1 had a tattoo on the back, above the butt and one .. actually I should say two..on her butt cheeks, rather low positioned. She 2 – I pictured her as a sweet girl, but unfortunately she is not to become a sweet adult at all. Somehow they were the only ones quite attached to the crew, which I don’t think had anything else in mind than “drink & get laid”. They were all going “fuck off” and “shut the fuck up” at each other.

-2 guys – rather quiet. One of them was an angelic blond. Listening to music at their iPODs all the time, even though we had music on the ship.
I forgot the rest…

The crew: Skipper – fat, short, red hair … freaking everywhere, nothing like my dad; Dave and the guy with black hair and the guy who laughed all the time like an idiot – these were the ones caring about us, making the announcements, working on the ship, taking us with a smaller boot to the beach and so on. They were tooooooo damn talkative, sometimes even abusive, rather bad mannered, but in a strange way…fun.
Laura – the cook – French, a tattoo with some hebrew letters on the back of her neck, 2 piercings – one in the nose, one in the lower lip, 2 ankle bracelets. She cooked the most delicious fish on the first night on the ship. Came from France to have fun and make a living.

All in all, despite the colorful landscape, sometimes too noisy..it was worth! I slept extremely good in that tiny almost claustrophobic bed, had good food, got the chance to see how kinds behave in their world trips. This brings me to a regret I have. I’Ve never been in such a journey. Maybe it’s time to do so!

Oh..and something that would make a good motive for a tattoo are the most-used words by the crew: “Alright? Sweet! Happy days!” 🙂

Maybe I will put some pictures some other time. now I am really tired of all this writing.