Monday, December 5, 2011

A journey of a different kind

Hi friends,

Not sure if anyone's still lurking out there. You'd be forgiven for assuming I'd abandoned my blog. I suppose I've needed some time to get back into the rhythm of things. (*cough* excuse).

I'm still writing and I'm still eating - one more than the other, naturally.

On the writing side of things, a certain right-wing Melbournian newspaper has been running a travel story competition over the past couple of weeks. I've entered twice but not deemed worthy of publishing; although I'd love a detailed list of their criteria given some of the most recent 'winning' entries. Not that I'm bitter (*cough* maybe I am).

Anyway, sometimes writings are too good to be left unpublished - by newspapers or otherwise.

So I give you my travel story - of a different kind.


Fifi xo

After a 14 month sojourn in Europe, I’ve been put on the ‘No Fly’ list by my parents, and I’m Australia bound for at least the next few years. I’m back to the daily grind: commute, work, commute, and sadly those 14 months of eye-opening, exciting and unpredictable adventures have begun to feel like a distant memory.
The thing about memories is that they’re inextricably linked to things – sounds, smells, items of clothing, and they can pop up any time. Rather than grit my teeth through another peak hour city loop, I take another journey, to a place much nicer than the 8:08am express to Flinders Street.

It’s winter and my boots aren’t doing a very good job battling the slush of Berlin’s first snow of the season. In my ears, ‘Basic Space’ by The xx is playing, and I grip my chai with mittened hand as I make my way down a street in trendy Prenzlauerberg. Although it’s 10:30am, the sky is grey and heavy, not dissimilar to my chosen soundtrack. I’m surprised when I open my eyes: the grey sky is still there, but I’m a world and eleven months away; still The xx wail on.

I’ve missed the 8:08 and have to wait for the 8:12. With iPod on shuffle, my mind wanders back in time with the randomly chosen song: Blur’s ‘Country Sad Ballad Man’. We’re hurtling through rural Poland on a feat of Soviet engineering – a feat because the train is still running. As the honey-colour fields zoom past, I see tepee-shaped bales of hay which no piece of farm equipment could ever make. Those poor, sad country men, I think, as the Soviet train of my memory is replaced with the pale blue Metro variety.

Upon boarding the train, my shuffle function takes an interesting route, pulling out DJ Ötzi’s ‘Hey Baby’. How did this even get on my iPod? Suddenly, I smell it (or is that my neighbour?) - yeasty steins of beer, doughy pretzels and hops, strung from the rafters of a tent at Munich’s Oktoberfest. People are standing on benches, singing the cheesy song in unison. By this stage of the night, the simple lyrics are manageable even for the most inebriated, and the long heeeeeeeeey baby, followed by a satisfying ‘ooh, ah’ seems to be doing the trick. My neighbour grabs me, and we clink steins and cheers “Ein Prosit!”

Another day, I’m pushed right up against the train door, my personal space left behind on the platform. I think I’ll take a ‘Walk in the Park’ with Beach House instead. Immediately I’m back to Alicante in Spain, lying on a perfectly white beach, the Balearic Sea nibbling at my toes and the gentle European sun affording me the tan I could never earn in Melbourne. For five and a half minutes, I float away from the condensation-fogged windows of the train, which threaten to drip morning-breath-dew upon my jacket. Another morning, another journey – of a different kind.

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