Ivan's Travels

Thursday, December 21, 2006


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Verdana Calibri

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Back home soon!

Just a quick note to say that my trip is nearly at an end. I've been in San Francisco for 5 days now, and tomorrow night I'll be flying home. My cold has come back a bit which is a pain but at least I can take lots of sleep-inducing drugs on the flight! Can't wait for the 7-hour stopover in Auckland...

Next time I come to the US I'm taking with me a laptop with wi-fi. Travelling without one really does delegate you to second-class netizen status, as internet cafes are few and far between over here. Just think of how much more self-indulgent my blog could have been with all that wireless access!! Anyway, soon I'll have ample opportunity to subject all of you to more anecdotes and photos than you ever wanted!

I'll be back in Perth on Monday evening, and will probably spend the next few days sleeping... Anyway, looking forward to catching up with everyone soon!! Friday drinkies, anyone?

Monday, July 03, 2006

First post from the West Coast

I really meant to write something when I was in LA, but didn't quite get around to it! My week long camping trip to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Yosemite has ended and I'm now in San Francisco. I decided that I would stay at the hostel I booked originally (the one in the dodgy district, see the post from a couple of weeks ago), but might check out the other one if I get time. Actually the part of the Tenderloin where it's located doesn't seem too bad. There are a few weirdos hanging around outside, which makes for interesting viewing from the comfort of an armchair in the lobby, but otherwise it's not too bad. Don't see what all the fuss is about really! Now that I've said that my next post will probably be all about how I got mugged walking down the street... (Just kidding Mum!)

I'm getting up early tomorrow morning to meet some guys from the tour; we're hopefully going to take the ferry to Alcatraz. So I should really go and get some sleep now, but will hopefully have time to make at least one more post before I get back home in a week's time!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hi, how y'all doin'? My name is Class Karajas!

I've been christened with a new name. When I got to the hostel a few nights ago I gave the guy behind the desk my driver's license, to savehaving to spell out my surname over and over again. He found my surname but he obviously had a bit of trouble finding my first name, until he saw the word "class" and typed it into the computer. So I guess my name in New York is now Class Karajas!

Maybe this doesn't sound too strange to an American. When I was in London I met an American called Cherish, and in Boston I met someone called Cinnamon. Those crazy Americans with their funny names!

Not feeling too great today; I've had a sore throat since last night and am flying off to LA tomorrow. Hopefully it will clear up by then. Anyway, I've just been having a quiet one today.

Got up to lots of things in Boston. Explored the city with some guys I met there, went to a comedy club, walked the Freedom Trail, went to some dive bars, saw MIT and Harvard, etc. etc... Generally had a fun time. Boston has a real English/European feel to it, and it's a lot more relaxed than New York. Lots of beautiful red brick terrace houses in the city, part of which almost looks like London.

At the moment, the city is full of statues of cows, some of which you'll see on the photo site. It's a public art project for something called the Jimmy Fund. I also saw something similar in Athens. Apparently they're related.

The hostel where I stayed for a week was really sociable and full of interesting people. Some were a bit on the odd side of interesting, like the Croatian guy who didn't speak English but would just come up and talk to you anyway. I saw him downstairs in the common area and he was there, watching TV and chatting. I thought that there might have been someone sitting next to him but it eventually dawned on me that he was just sitting there by himself and talking to the TV. He did that a lot, too. Strange. We also had a 50-something Scottish guy who was travelling the world to escape having to make payments to his recently divorced wife. Just about everyone else was pretty normal, though!

Hmm, can't think of anything else to write about right now, so I guess I'll see you in LA!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Back in New York

I took a bus from Boston back to New York today. If you ever have to travel between these two cities, I recommend the Chinatown buses, Fung Wah and Lucky Star. They have a bus leaving Boston for New York City (and vice versa) every hour and it's only $15! Those Chinese love their bargains!

I almost didn't have anywhere to stay tonight... When I booked my trip I intentionally left 3 nights open, thinking that I might spend a few nights in Martha's Vineyard or Cape Cod on the way back to New York. In the end I decided to just stay in Boston. Unfortunately I thought that I only had 2 nights free instead of 3 so I've ended up in New York a day early! Luckily they had some beds left.

Ended up hanging around with a Colombian girl I met at the hostel tonight. Funny how I met hardly anyone during the entire week I stayed here last time, and this time it only took a couple of hours! I thought that SoHo might be a fun place to go to so we went there. They say that New York is a city that never sleeps, but I think SoHo must have been taking a catnap... so we ended up going to Times Square with the rest of the tourists.

Anyway, I really should go to bed, but I'll try to write some more about what I got up to in Boston later. 'Night!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hi from Boston

Just a quick (internet access is expensive here!!) note to say that I'm still here. I've been in Boston since Monday 12 and will be leaving to go back to New York this coming Monday. I've been having a great time in Boston, it really is a fantastic city. The hostel I'm staying in has (partially) restored my faith in HI hostels too. Been going out every night and meeting lots of interesting people.

I've uploaded 50 new photos to the Flickr site, so go and check them out!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Things I saw in NYC

I'm in Washington D.C. at the moment. Just spending a few days here. Got here yesterday (Friday) and will be leaving for Boston on Monday. I'm staying in a little hostel in Takoma, just a few streets from the border with Maryland. Completely different to the place I was staying at in New York. It was one of these big HI hostels with hundreds of beds, lots of school groups and no character whatsoever. I did manage to meet a few people during the week I was there but for the most part everyone stuck to themselves. I still managed to have a good time, though--there's quite a lot of stuff to keep yourself entertained with in New York City. I've already paid to stay at a couple more HIs; in Boston and San Francisco. It's a bit too late to change my plans for Boston, but I've already booked myself into somewhere different for San Francisco. I also found out that the place I initially booked in San Francisco is located in the Tenderloin district, which is notorious for being full of drug pushers, pimps, and other interesting characters, which would mean staying in a place with no atmosphere, situated in the middle of an area with a bit too much of it!

I managed to catch a Broadway show: Avenue Q! I had been annoying Lou with the soundtrack a few months ago and it was great to finally see it on stage. It's a kind of twisted take on Sesame Street and it's very funny. It's playing in New York, London and Las Vegas so if you happen to be in any of those places I really recommend you check it out.

I also got to to see... the back of Julia Roberts' head!!!! She was about to make her exit from the theatre where she's performing and they were putting up the barricades just as I was leaving, so I got myself into a good position, and was promptly jostled out of the way as the hordes of other gawkers descended! Glad I didn't see the play, I hear it's rubbish!

Spent a few hours wandering around the art galleries in Chelsea, an unassuming and formerly down-at-heel district of lower west Manhattan, full of warehouses which has been taken over by hordes of fine art galleries. It's possibly the place to see (and buy) contemporary art. The prices, when they're displayed at all, attest to it at any rate! Anyway, even if you're not super-rich, you can still enjoy walking around and looking at what's on offer. I enjoyed looking at the paintings of Till Gerhard, whose works on show were playfully morbid takes on pop culture icons, like this one. There was also a replica of an Abbey Road-era Beatles photo where the Fab Four's faces had been superimposed with those of apes. Bizarre, yet strangely compelling...

Compared to viewing the canonical works of modern art in the staid surroundings of the Musuem of Modern Art (or MoMA, as everyone calls it), I found the galleries in Chelsea a bit more... relevant, perhaps? Not to say that MoMA wasn't interesting, but art's such a subjective thing. Having seen my fair share of galleries, I find it more fun to see something without too many expectations or preconceived notions. Anyway, if you're in New York City, try to fit in some time to see Chelsea!

I got to MoMA a day later than I intended, getting distracted by Grand Central Terminal. They have a tour there every Wednesday, which I was glad I took. It's an amazing building, even more so for the fact that it's a train station (...sorry, terminal!). The vaulted ceiling above the main concourse, which you've probably seen in at least one or two movies, rises 12 storeys above the floor and has a starscape with the signs of the zodiac painted on it in gold. The stars are painted backwards, so you see the heavens "as God would see them". There are marble staircases on each end of the concourse, forming a balcony at their halfway point; as if to give the impression of being in an opera house. There are also huge arched windows along the sides of the mostly naturally lit building, with walkways running through them. Electric light was ultra-modern in 1905, at the time of the terminal's completion, so lightbulbs are prominently displayed in the building's light fittings, including the huge spherical chandeliers (or "electroliers", as they were dubbed at the time!)

Well, I could go on, but it's past 1:00am and I really should get some sleep. Will write something about Washington D.C. later! Probably when I'm in Boston...

By the way, the computer which I'm using at the moment is encased in wire mesh so I can't plug anything into it. Hopefully I'll find somewhere I can upload some photos from soon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

'Sup, y'all

You would think that it would be easy to find an internet cafe in the capital city of the world, but it's a tougher proposition that you'd think! Anyway, yo to my homies 'n bitches, I be chillin' in New York!

I've been here for about 3 days now, having arrived here from London on Friday afternoon. Really just been getting my bearings, on foot as well as those touristy sightseeing buses! It was pretty rainy on Friday and Saturday, which made for a bit of a bleak introduction to the city--I headed out to Times Square on the first night and it was a sea of umbrellas. But it's mostly cleared up now. I've also been for some wanderings around TriBeCa, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Little Italy and the East Village. Saw a bit of Harlem a couple of days ago when I accidentally got onto an express train which bypassed my stop at 103rd street and went straight to 125th street. I haven't really had time to set foot into any museums or theatres yet, there's just so much to see outside!

Had a great time in London. Wasn't too happy to be there to start off with; think this must have had something to do with leaving my tour buddies back in Rome, along with the nice weather! Anyway, I got over it, and really enjoyed seeing the place again. Caught up with an old friend from Sweden and also headed over to Cambridge for an evening, catching up with some more friends and going to a dinner at Queens' College. That was an experience! After standing for grace, said in Latin of course, we sat down for a 3 course dinner prepared by the chef, who happens to have been awarded 4 Michelin stars. After dinner, we retired to the sitting room to drink claret and enjoy the selection of cheeses. The company was quite interesting--we had a few fellows of the college, an Australian opthalmologist on sabbatical in Cambridge to write a book, as well as a few other people, probably also with lots of important credentials. I spent most of the evening sitting quietly and trying not to put my foot in my mouth! The contrast with the previous evening in Soho couldn't have been starker!

Managed to do some celebrity spotting when I stumbled on the premiere of Poseidon at Leicester Square. Saw Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, and some other people that neither I nor my fellow gawkers in the crowd had heard of. Seen one famous person (albeit exclusively in geek circles) in New York so far, Richard Stallman, a.k.a. RMS, who I passed in the 42nd street subway station a couple of days ago.

Anyway, I'm in another Apple store (see previous comment about lack of internet cafes), and I'm probably getting lots of dirty looks. Will have to put a plug in for Apple somewhere (buy a Mac!!). Until next time...

Monday, May 29, 2006

What I've been doing lately...

Trulli houses with pagan motifs
Originally uploaded by Sajaraki.

Wow, I can't believe that it's been almost 2 weeks since I managed to write a decent entry on what I've been doing. Anyway, I'm in London now, at the Apple Store on Regent Street where they have free internet access, so let's see how long I can go before I get politely booted off!

Here's what I've been up to in a nutshell: after Parga we took an overnight ferry from Igoumenitsa to Brindisi. Getting there around 6 in the morning, we made our way to Lecce on the train. Lecce has a beatiful walled old town, with lots of baroque buildings. On my first day there I managed to gatecrash a wedding in the duomo! They were allowing tourists to enter while the wedding was in progress so I just went in with everyone else... The next day a few of us headed off for a day in Otranto, a very old port town which reminded me a bit of Fremantle. Explored the castle, had some gelati and went for a swim. Well, I tried to swim but the water was freezing! There were some locals in the water but they seemed to be content wading around--I suspect that this is the seaside eqivalent of promenading. Made a new friend on the bus over and had dinner with her that night, which was fun!

After Lecce we had 3 days in Alberobello, which is famous for its Trulli houses, which fill much of the town and the surrounding countryside. They are conical in shape and are built from stone. They were originally built entirely from dry stone so that they could be hastily knocked to the ground (the local duke didn't like having to pay land taxes). Some of them predate the arrival of Christianity in the area and still have pagan symbols painted on their roofs. We all stayed in Trulli while we were there. There isn't a lot to do in Alberobello but I did go for a few bike rides around the area, making it to some of the neigbouring towns, sampling lots of the local cherries along the way.

Went to Naples for a very short afternoon and evening. Naples is crazy and I really want to go back again. It has a much harder edge to it than the other cities I visited in Italy. The people look different too; less showy and tougher-looking. That evening we stumbled on a political rally, which was quite amusing. It started off with some guy wearing a white suit, black tie, and no shirt, lip synching to some Italian hip-hop music while getting down and dirty with some pretty ordinary dancers (we speculated that they might have been his cousins or something like that, it looked pretty amateur...). That was followed by a bunch of old guys getting up on stage to gee up the crowd with some rousing speeches. As we were leaving, they started setting off fireworks, from within the audience. My travelling companions thought they were gunshots!

Spent another brief day in Rome, seeing some of the sights. We had a farewell dinner at the Piazza Navona, followed by a fun journey back to the hotel after we discovered that the Rome Metro system closed at 9pm.

Really wish I stayed in Rome for longer. Was definitely thinking this when I arrived at my dingy hostel in cold, smelly, expensive London!

Friday, May 26, 2006


We just got to Rome a couple of hours ago! Have to dash off, though. Will try to write more this evening, otherwise it might be when I'm in London, where I'm flying off to tomorrow.