Wednesday, May 6

So, last sunday i was supposed to leave Zagreb to meet my parents in sarajevo. But that morning i got a phone call from them to say they wouldn't be on the plane, as my mother was in hospital in singapore with a fever (but not swine flu). She was ok, but they wouldn't be flying just yet. So, with only an hour before i was supposed to pick it up, i cancelled the rental car and stayed in Zagreb.
They finally arrived this morning, having changed tiers flights to come directly to zagreb, which saves me a trip to sarajevo, and means i get to spend this week here! And it happens to be the week of the queer festival! Quelle chance!
So last night i went to the opening, and then woke up at crack of dawn to get to the airport, them we made good use of the car i had borrowed, and drove up the mountain to Sljeme, just because we could.
The plan now is one more day in zagreb, then on friday to budapest to start this cruise on the danube! But first- i get to in to two more queer festival parties!
After all, who needs sleep when there's coffee?

Thursday, April 30


Originally uploaded by Nomad Kat

Wednesday, April 29

Kat On Tour

So this Sunday my summer starts. A little earlier than for most people, but hey, who ever said my life was normal.

So, because I keep finding myself explaining it, here is The Summer Plan:

On Sunday, May 3, I leave Zagreb. I pick up a hire car, drive to Sarajevo, pick up my parents from the airport.

The next few days I spend travelling in Bosnia with them, and then return to Zagreb for One Night Only on Thursday May 7.

May 8 we catch a train to Budapest to join this cruise-tour thing that leaves us in Istanbul 15 days later. My parents leave from there on May 24.

I'm thinking I will leave about the same time, and make my way back to Zagreb, probably detouring through Macedonia and Serbia on the way. I'll onlyl have a few day in Zagreb though (the beginning of June) because then I'm booked for a workshop in Zurich for the OFF_PRIDE festival (the alternative to Europride).

As soon as I can, though, I'll be back in Zagreb, and be here for at least a week - by no small coincidence, it will be the week of ZG Pride... but then, no doubt all too soon, I will have to leave again to get to another festival and another workshop, this time in Tabor in Czechy.

After that, I have 10 days or so to make my way towards the UK in time to start my regular summer job at the beginning of July. I'll be working until mid-august.

At the end of August, just a few days after I finish being professional me (ha) and revert to regular old anarchist-queer me, Oslo queer festival is on, and I'll be workshopping at that as well.

And then, well, I'll be in Scandinavia, a part of the world I haven't seen much of, so I hope to do a few weeks of travelling, maybe get to the arctic circle and iceland, see more of Sweden than Malmo airport, that sort of thing.

And *then*, I have to decide what I'm doing with the rest of the year. Current plans involve travelling overland to Australia, moving back to Montreal (visa willing) or coming back to live in Zagreb.

And right now, Zagreb is winning...

Monday, April 20

Sunday on Saturday at Medika


Lat night was a fun night, with lots of friends and acquaintances (everyone who's ANYone was there, dahling!) and many little entertaining moments. And a few crazy ones: I am used to meeting the occasional Aussiophile here, who gets unreasonably excited when they find out my country of origin, but I've never made anyone cry before...
Worst case of the affliction that I had seen, really. I'm glad she had a good time while she was in Aus, and I'm sorry her visa ran out and she had to leave, but I haven't really lived in Australia for long enough now that I almost feel weird saying I'm from there, and I always have to admit at some point that I'm quite happy not living there, even though it's their life-long dream to be able to do so.
When I made my escape (the interestingness of the aussiophile girl being finally outweighed by the annoyingness of the drunk guy hoping to to kiss us) I heard her say in a very disappointed whine "See, now you've frightened her away!". And I did indeed feel like some small furry animal scurrying off to safety (but still did not feel at all like the kangaroo that Drunk Guy kept wanting me to be "Are you a kangaroo?" "No, do I look like a kangaroo?")

Definitely an entertaining night!

Saturday, April 18

Another Random Night

Originally uploaded by Nomad Kat
Last night I ended up being in a music video, quite randomly. This was part of the set. And I was already in costume for the party I thought we were going to (we got there by about 3am...)

There are definitely moments when I look at my crazy life, and think something very much like this, and the randomness of last night was one of those times, so this pic feels very representative of the evening!

I will, of course, post a link to the vid just as soon as I'm told it's finished! In the meantime, here's another vid from the same artist (though the vid from last night will be more like this one):

Tuesday, April 14

More Rubber

Here are more photos of last week's rubber workshop from a friend's camera. They are, of course, superior to mine!

I've been making more cuffs and things this week, and working on another rubber bowtie to recreate something like the costume I wore to a party in Montreal. (There's another party, you see, here, in Zagreb! I really didn't expect this city to compare to my beloved Montreal...)

So I've improved the bowtie design, I think. And I've come up with some more (adjustable!) cuff designs. I'm thinking I should actually try selling them. That would be interesting. And maybe make me some pocket money, though not an actual living. I've ordered better plier-style tools on ebay, so hopefully I can make them without the hammering that my current tools require (which annoys neighbours, and is generally a pain).

I've also got some proofreading work this week, and maybe some busking, and that, plus my sadly swollen leprous lip that is going to mean I spend a lot of time hiding (or going out with a bag over my head) means I might actually break even for the week!

And I wasn't even looking for work...

Wednesday, April 8

The Fragility of my Zagreb Queer Bubble.

I've had such a wonderful life lately, abandoning myself complately to hedonistic persuits, such as perfecting the art of spending all day in cafes hanging out with one friend after another. The sun is shining, we've had 3 t-shirt-weather days in a row, everyone is beautiful and life is generally brilliant.

I have been feeling a little guilty about this high in the last few days, though, as the same spring-fever that is causing my high has also caused nearly everyone I know to break up with their partners. Which is sad. But it does mean there are even more people than usual looking for distraction, company, and a friendly ear, which increases my time spent sitting outside in cafes, which I am not complaining about.
Some are also looking for a friendly liver to destroy along with their own, of course, and it's possible I should work on drinking less. But we know that friends shouldn't let friends drink alone, so what can I do?

Tonight though, while drinking in an alternative sort of punk-ish bar here, I had my lovely little queerspace bubble invaded by a mild homophobe.
A friend of a friend joined us at our table, and, if we had stuck to discussing languages and music, I'm sure i would have thought he was alright. But somehow the subject of feminism came up, and suddenly he was saying "There is no point to feminism these days. Maybe it was useful in the 50s and 60s, but it's not needed now". My argument to this somehow got cut off before I had finished it, but before I knew it he was saying "Gay people shouldn't march in the street, because it holds up the trams and makes people late for work". He apparently thought this meant that the pride parade each year only hurts the gay cause, rather than helping it.
The last straw, however, was: "Gay people in Croatia should have some rights, but not others". Stupidly, of course, I asked which ones we shouldn't have. Adoption was first on his list.
At this point, I flipped out slightly. I realised that this was not a conversation I could have at 1 in the morning in a mildly inebriated state, and I just wanted to get far away from this person who was happily insulting me as part of a friendly discussion. I stood up and apologised way too much while saying I couldn't continue this, and that I had to leave. He (at least) said that he would leave instead, so I was able to stay with my friends. But I was left somewhat shaky, and rather disturbed. I'm also a little disappointed that I failed to argue effectively and make him think about what he was actually saying, but I doubt it would have done any good, and I would have just ended up angry. 
Before he left he said "I'm sorry. I thought we were just having a conversation". I replied "Yes, it was great until you started insulting me".

I know that I live in a very special world here in Zagreb. Having met nearly everyone I know here through queer/friendly events and people, and as I am not working, I almost never have to interact with anyone that isn't queer-friendly. I have the luxury of living in queer space in a country where I would have thought it impossible. This encounter made me realise how lucky I am to be able to do that. And how close the non-friendly world can get.

When I got home a couple of hours later (half an hour ago), I found he had sent me a friend request on facebook. I considered friending him long enough for him to see my status, which referred to him as a homophobe, and the activist in me wanted to continue the argument until he saw the error of his ways, but in the end I decided it just wasn't worth the pain, and clicked 'ignore'.

But maybe the reaction I had was enough. Perhaps seeing someone being visibly affected like that by something he had said will make him start thinking about his own views about gay people and slowly, eventually, change them.

Well, we can hope, can't we?

Saturday, April 4

Found the quote

An update to this recent post:

"Traveling carries with it the curse of being
at home everywhere and yet
nowhere, for wherever one is some part
of oneself remains on another continent."

Source: Dame Margot Fonteyn

Thanks to an unknown visitor to my blog from Saskatchewan, Canada, for using a search string in google that turned up both my blog AND the original quote.

Monday, March 30

My Zagreb life of leisure.

So my life has been pretty busy in a crazy sort of way these last few weeks. There was the festival in Ljubljana, followed immediately by my trip to Oslo, and then since then, it seems that Zagreb is waking up for spring, and there has been so much to do.

I've started yoga classes again - Zen yoga, this time, randomly (it was the cheapest most convenient class I could find) and I have the sore muscles to prove it.

To counter the healthiness of that, there has also been a tent in one of the squares in town selling wine and a few different rakijas (like schnapps) at extremely reasonable prices. Especially when you get a couple of friends together and buy by the bottle! I seem to have partaken in quite a few bottles, mostly of Orahovac (walnut liqueur).

Last Thursday was Queer Zagreb's monthly film screening night, and I saw the french film "Juste une Question d'amour", which was good, but, at nearly 10 years old, felt a little dated in terms of attitudes to homosexuality. About right for this part of the world, though!
We followed this (after a decent interim spent in the wine tent) by heading to the women's night at Funk that happens twice a month here. It was crowded, but, as always, a lot of fun, and I'm glad it exists!

I've also had couchsurfers staying - Napoleon (my colleague from Sarajevo) came for a night last weekend, as the Madman (my erstwhile boss) has finally fired him as well (continuing his record of never having a native speaker finish a contract) so it was N's last chance to see the fair city of ZG before leaving the Balkans.
I also just hosted two lovely germans for a few days, showing them my side of Zagreb, which they seemed to appreciate, even if we did end up in the wine tent a little more than seemed sensible. They probably got the impression I'm a complete alcoholic!

Friday night there was a circus performance at Medika, the squat where I stayed my first nights in Zagreb back in October. I hadn't been back since, strangely enough, although now they have an agreement with the city for at least part of the building, making them all legal and secure, although no longer able to host overnight guests.
The performance was sold out, so some friends and I spent some time drinking yet more Orahavac (I was avoiding the wine-tent, but it came to me, instead!) outside, and then somehow ended up getting in to see the end of the show anyway. And then stayed the rest of the night at the after party, dancing to a very eclectic music selection, which was great.

And then last night (Saturday) I went to an 'unplugged' outdoor concert in celebration of Earth-Hour. Now, they seemed to have some idea of what Earth Hour is about, and the bands were mostly doing acoustic sets (apart from the electric bass and pianos) and the gig was all lit by garden torches, which was quite effective, but the amplification was so loud you could hear the music a block or two away, which seemed to me to negate the energy savings of the lack of lighting!
But it was good anyway. I finally saw Lollobrigida perform, and Lidia who directs my choir here was performing with one of her bands, Afion, as well. 

The other remarkable thing about the last week or so, is that I seem to be running into people I know every time I leave the house. And not just at the events, but randomly on the street as well. Friday, in particular, I saw pretty much everyone I know in Zagreb, most of them at Medika, but earlier in the day as well. Maybe it's just spring, and there are more people out and about, but it's kinda nice to live somewhere where I can run into people I know (and like!) on a regular basis. I can imagine it wearing thin, if I were to stay here any length of time, but for someone who is still new in town, like me, it's rather nice, and gives me a good feeling of community!

Sunday, March 29

Pun Fest

Store Wars.

Wednesday, March 25

At home everywhere, but nowhere.

The curse of the traveller is to be at home everywhere, and yet nowhere.

I'm not sure if this is actually a (mis)quote, or something my brain invented by mis-remembering the meaning of another quote, but it seems more and more true lately. And it's a blessing as well as a curse. I can be at home everywhere. Many of my couchsurfing hosts have remarked on my skill at making myself quietly part of the household, and I am able to quickly familiarise myself with a new city, and learn the landmarks and interesting places. Friends in Zagreb have remarked that after a month or two I seem to know where everything is, and know lots of people.
But at the same time, I'm not really at home anywhere anymore. People ask me about Australia or Brisbane, and I have to admit that I don't know much anymore - it's nearly 2 years since I was last there, and I stopped reading australian news a long time ago (though I still listen to Triple J's Hack podcast).

Still, for now I'm happy as a wanderer, and the plan to make Montreal my base (because that's one place I did feel at home) will give me a home, and make explaining where I live, or where I'm 'from' a whole lot less confusing for people I meet!

Monday, March 23

Things that have made me think

I just read this in the bood I read on my way back from Oslo.

"...the sense of endless possibility that every ex-patriate experiences, the feeling that your life has somehow opened up, that you're finally free to become exactly who you want to be" (Tony Parsons in One for my Baby)

I've been thinking lately about why I live the way I do, and I'm beginning to think that a lot of it is just attention-seeking. Or maybe thrill-seeking!

You see, during the first month in a new city, everything is new and interesting, including me. I'm a strange exotic stranger who has enough interest in the city to want to live there for a while.
After a month or so, the novelty wears off, I become just another resident of the city, my social life gets a little less hectic, and I settle into a 'normal' sort of routine.

So it's entirely possible that I rely too much on my exotic-novelty factor to power my social life. But hey, why not? Didn't someone famous say that you should always be a little foreign wherever you are? This is exactly my strategy, it seems!

There's also the 'be who you want to be' factor. In the years I've been travelling, I've taken a little something from everywhere I've been: a little culture, a little fashion sense, a little language, a few ideas about what is 'normal'. I'm definitely a long way from where I was 7 years ago before I started this lifestyle.

So now my accent and vocabulary is a bizarre mix, my dress sense is increasingly idiosyncratic and I am always a little foreign wherever I am.

Of course, this also gives me the freedom to not conform with whatever 'normal' means wherever I am. Anything that is considered unusual or weird can be explained by my foreign-ness. Even if the percieved weirdness wouldn't be 'normal' anywhere I've been, I have the excuse to be exactly who I want to be. The 'coolness' factor I gain from being an exotic nomad also means that whatever strange thing I wear/say/do/etc, is exotically interesting, and not uncool.

Yay for non-conformist individuality, hey?!

So the conclusion that can be drawn from all this, I guess, is that if I'm doing it, or wearing it, or whatever, it is automatically cool, and screw what anyone else thinks.

I just need to remember that more often!

Thursday, March 19

Recovering from my week in Oslo

I've just had a fantastic week in Oslo. I had a lot of fun, caught a glimpse of some of the interesting stuff that's going on there, and discovered that it would be very easy to learn Norwegian, which is such a cute and entertaining sing-song language. I was even vaguely offered a rather excellent-sounding job.

So naturally, my thoughts turn to whether or not it would be feasible to actually live there for a while. This seems to happen just about every time I spend an interesting week in a city lately - particularly if I meet up with the queer and activist-y people, and find things I could get involved in enthusiastically. That's pretty much how I ended up in both Sarajevo and Zagreb. And even though I'm still enjoying getting to know Zagreb, my nomadic attention span (similar to that of a goldfish, it seems) has been distracted by the idea of a new country, a new language, and a sweet little capital city with the beginnings of a decent queer & alternative community and quite a few amazing people.

Of course, the 8 months of winter and one of the highest living costs in the world are slight drawbacks, but whatever... The winter is not unlike Montreal (though warmer) and the cost of living is matched by the salaries, so as long as I was working I would be fine.

And also, of course, I don't know when I would fit in living in Norway. I already have several different possible plans for after the summer. I guess now I have a Plan D, as well!

Thursday, March 12


Originally uploaded by Ptraci
I'm in Oslo to give a workshop on making harnesses and things from bike inner tubes, which is really a quite radical concept here, it seems. I was even on the radio today to explain the concept!
This pic of the national parliament screwed up and got overexposed, and I have no idea why, but it's quite an interesting effect, in the end. It was snowing at the time (it has been snowing steadily all day, just to make up for the beautiful sunny day we had yesterday) but it wasn't actually a blizzard!
Off to some burlesque show now! If I can stay awake! I think I should probably work on getting some sleep tomorrow - two festivals in a row with only one day of travelling in between has been rather exhausting, and the workshop itself is tomorrow evening, followed by a party and performance evening!

Friday, March 6

Reasons i feel like i'm in berlin right now:

I spent yesterday evening hanging out in the squatted entertainment area metelkova, which would not be in the slightest bit out of place in berlin.
I just ate felafel, which is, of course, one of my favourite things about berlin. I even sat on a river bank to eat it, which is one of my berlin traditions.
It's warm and sunny, while still being jumper weather which is how i mostly remember berlin, as i've almost always been there in spring early summer.
While wandering around today i occasionally smelt coal burning, which i first learnt to identify in berlin.
The sharehouse flat i'm staying in reminds me of any number of places i have stayed in germany, both in architecture and atmosphere.
The currency is the euro.
There are interesting people wandering about interesting funky areas of town.
I can reasonable expect anyone i encounter to speak english- even those over 30.
Overall, Ljubljana is a cool and funky little town, and i have a feeling i will be back again before long!

Thursday, March 5

0.15 seconds of fame

I realise that when I posted the link to my choir's television appearance in my last post, I forgot to tell you where in the 50 minute program we are. So here's the link again, but this time I can tell you that the story starts at about 12:55, and goes for around 6 minutes. Stay tuned for the last few seconds for my closeup!

The story is that there was this girl who came out to her parents, who were so impressed that they locked her in a mental institution for a few years. She has recently been released, and the concert we performed at on Saturday night (which is also plugged in the tv appearance) was a benefit concert for her.
I gather the story focusses both on her and on the emergence of queer choirs in Zagreb - the guys they talk to are from the newly-formed queer male choir Qklapa.

Monday, March 2

Good Things

They just keep happening!

  • Going to Varazdin last week with Dora, and dressing up for carnivale
  • Discovering getting back to Canada might be easier than I thought
  • Hosting Eli the hitchhiking Couchsurfer on Wednesday night
  • Le Zbor (the choir) getting filmed for tv! It screened on Saturday night, and is now online!
  • Hosting Kristen the Couchsurfer from Montreal from Friday (until today!)
  • Choir practice on Friday night, in which we sang our way through the entire repertoire, including a whole lot of pieces I didn't know we sang.
  • Going out Friday night with friends.
  • Beginning to sort things out in my room here and Get Things Done from my huge long to-do list.
  • Hosting Stephanie, another solo traveller fom Canada, on Saturday night!
  • The amazing benefit concert on Saturday night, at which Le Zbor sang beautifully, and were definitely the highlight of the concert!
  • Getting to finally see my friends' band Z/buka play at the saturday night concert, even if the sound system wasn't so great.
  • Acquiring a great new t-shirt from the saturday performance (we wore them to perform), plus 5 new great badges to add to my collection (thanks Goga!)
  • Spending most of Sunday at a hot springs spa with a bunch of Couchsurfers.
  • Seeing my friend Anne from Sarajevo, who came to visit Sunday and Monday.
  • Finding a couch for this weekend's festival in Ljubljana - I sent one request, and found exactly the right people to stay with!
  • Settling into my wonderful flat here.
  • Beans. Beans are good things. Especially when made into chilli.
  • Possibly maybe perhaps getting invited to Oslo to give a workshop there.
  • Learning about silicone stuff from my wonderful flatmate, who just happens to be studying it as part of her masters in fine arts (sculpture).
  • Being given all my favourite sorts of chocolate by my house guests (dark chocolate! Lindor Chocolate! Pink Pepper chocolate, which I didn't even know I liked!) AND a jar of Thai Red Curry Paste!
  • I'm listening to TripleJ as I write this post!

Wednesday, February 25

Douglas Adams was really on to something

Apparently, I Have Eyes

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
This was the beginnings of today's impromtu Carnivale costume. Many more hilarious photos on flickr :)

Saturday, February 21

the theremin is still the coolest instrument I know

Although it's pretty much a tie with the sousaphone, I think.

See! It can do lyrical melody AND weird 50s sci-fi sound effects!

In other musical news, I joined Le Zbor (which translates, using two languages as 'The Choir'). I've been to two rehearsals. I have a whole lot of croatian lyrics to learn. But it's nice to be singing again.

Friday, February 20

Hitchhiking tips

I having trouble embedding this video, for some strange reason, so here's the link instead.

And yes, it's in Dutch, but it's very closely related to english, so listen hard, and you'll understand enough to get the point.

Now I'm off to buy myself a Heidi outfit. Or maybe an aquarium...

(OK, so I thought it was Danish, but that's because the person who originally pointed it out to me was danish, I believe, and i just never listened hard enough to spot the difference...)

Friday, February 13

That trip I did in January, remember?

I just realised that I can make maps with google and embed them here. I mean, I knew I could embed maps, but hadn't thought of doing it here.
So I made this one of the trip I did in the first 2 weeks of January this year, which is a good excuse to blog something about it. The beginning was by bus, as I was travelling with my friend Anne, and she had a time limit, but from Herceg Novi up the coast, to Zagreb and back to Sarajevo was all done by hitchhiking.

View Larger Map

Trip highlights include:

The bus ride through the icy mountains to Podgorica. At one point I looked down from the bus window and saw nothing but the river a looooong way below... Also, the bus went 7 hours without a single toilet break (and no toilet on-board either). In fact the two girls who did attempt a toilet break at one of the places we stopped to load more passengers ended up being left behind (but were delivered back to us 15 minutes down the road)

The sheer amazingness of the Dalmatian coast and the walls of Dubrovnik:

Getting a new sweater & 3 pairs of socks from a guy who picked me up while hitching:

The weather, particularly in Split:

The Sea Organ of Zadar (and yes, I know this should be a video so you can hear it, but I haven't uploaded one yet!)

Unfortunately, by the time I got to Zadar, I was pretty sick of travelling alone and staying in hostels, as the couchsurfing thing really did not work - I didn't even manage to meet anyone. So I had way too much time on my own, and too much time to think, and ended up all melancholy.

But then I arrived in Zagreb, and spent 4 days hanging out with great friends who cheered me up and convinced me that I really should be living in Zagreb, and not Sarajevo.

So now I am!

Thursday, February 12

Faster than a speeding bus.

Today I think I set a new record. I hitched from Sarajevo to Zagreb in precisely 8 hours and 10 minutes door to door. AND I went the scenic route, through Banja Luka. The bus is, I believe, 8 hours, but then you need time to get from bus stations to homes etc. Tonight I got dropped almost at my door.
Also, in the last 3 days (I hitched from Zagreb to Banja Luka on Monday, BL to Sarajevo on Tuesday, and back to Zagreb today, Wednesday - a flying visit to collect the last of my stuff from SJ) I travelled with a total of 9 people - all male, all driving alone, all but two appeared to be working. And I didn't get harassed once. In fact, all the people I travelled with were nice comfortable people with whom I felt quite safe. "Talkative man" (one of the two non-workers, and the other was an off-duty policeman) was the only one who raised my stress levels, and that was only because he didn't seem to understand the concept of 'I only speak a LITTLE serbo-bosno-croat', even when I said it in s-b-c. And several times. He seemed to think that just meant he should talk louder (but not slower, which might have helped!) He attempted to discuss a wide range of topics with me, most of which I didn't get, although I'm sure one of the things he told me was that all croats were 'not-good people' and that I was ok hitching in Bosnia, but I should never do so in Croatia. He also attempted to ask my opinion on the world financial crisis (I think). I most intelligently managed to say 'nije dobra' (not-good) and then made much use of 'I'm sorry, I don't understand'.
Everyone else I travelled with, pretty much, was happy talking our own s-b-c/english pidgin (which usually became more and more english during the trip as they realised they could understand me and I could understand them and they gained confidence in their english abilities). And the Konzum truck driver threw in random Italian and a bit of German as well, just to keep things interesting. I do like those conversations. (And then that night in Sarajevo I got to talk German and French, bringing my total languages for the day to 5. This is why I live in Europe.)

Here's my rides list for the trip:

White Van to Toll booths
Truck to Gradiska border.
Off-Duty policeman to Topola
Car to Banja Luka

Medium-sized truck to Donji Vakuj
Konzum truck to almost-Sarajevo
Van to Tramway

Red Van to Banja Luka
Talkative man to Topola
New white people-mover to my door.

(And yes, I know I've had a bit of a winter hiatus. And I might write and fill you all in on what I've been doing in the last month or two, or I might not. You'll just have to deal with it. Suffice it to say that I live in Zagreb now, and my social life and mental health are much better because of it).

Saturday, February 7

You silly English Knnnnnnnniggit....

Originally uploaded by Ptraci

Mad Melodeon Musicians of Montreal

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
This was my going away party.

I miss Montreal.

Tulips on Mont-Royal

One of my favourite photos. I've probably posted it before, but it warrants a second viewing. It was also one of the first pics I even took on my N95, and convinced me that it was more or less as good as my Olympus, except for the lack of optical zoom.

Subcollisions @ Sala Rosa

Originally uploaded by Ptraci

Friday, February 6


Originally uploaded by Ptraci

Something lost in the translation, perhaps?

Originally uploaded by Ptraci

Little Train on the Prairie

Little Train on the Prairie
Originally uploaded by Ptraci

Thursday, February 5

All dressed

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
I never understood the Canadian's love of 'all-dressed' chips. I mean, I'm not a great fan of naked chips either, but dressing them just seems silly.

Hospital Optimist

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
Ever since I saw this (Niagara, December 2007), I've wondered what a hospital-optimist was, and why the bus was one/was going to one.

Crossing Northern Ontario

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
November 2007. It was an interesting trip.

Sheep of Stylish

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
Engrish from NY (I took a lot of photos in NY)

Shop window, NY

Originally uploaded by Ptraci


Originally uploaded by Ptraci
If you must have a car in NY, I guess this is the one to have.

Superior School Bus

Originally uploaded by Ptraci
Or so it says...


Originally uploaded by Ptraci
I just wish this wasn't blurry. It works really well in thumbnail size, though.

New York

Originally uploaded by Ptraci


Originally uploaded by Ptraci
I found this display of toys disturbing (we're still at the fair).


Originally uploaded by Ptraci
I'm going through my flickr, deleting stuff, just because I realise that 3000 photos online is a bit ridiculous, and because there are lots that were probably interesting at the time as 'this is my life' photos, but now have no artisitc merit or interest to anyone.
But as I'm going through them, I've decided to post a few that catch my eye here. Just because I can.

Starting with this one (I'm working chronologically according to upload, and at the moment, we're at the Puyallup Fair in September 2007, where this poster made me do a double-take. Spam is *what*?

Monday, January 26

Status updates

I completely forgot Australia's invasion day. Oh well.

I have had 3.5 excellent meals that involved VEGETABLES and VITAMINS in the last 4 days. One of the meals was brilliant Vegetarian Club take away, another was vaguely asian (soy sauce and ginger, and the third was CURRY! My taste buds are entirely overwhelmed at the unaccustomed flavours, and my body won't know how to deal with all the health factor. I will now go eat chocolate to compensate. And tomorrow, while hitching, I will be on my normal hitchhiking diet of pretzels, bread, cheese and chocolate spread. This is bound to balance out all that healthy stuff.

I can't believe how much stuff I've accumulated in the short time I have been in Sarajevo. I am leaving some here and will have to come back to get it sometime in the future.

I have, however, completely failed to accumulate new boots. My old ones are still held together with tape (at least I've replaced the strips of plastic bag) and I'm really hoping it's not rainy or snowy tomorrow. Although I suspect it will be both.

The thought of hitching to Zagreb tomorrow is a little daunting now that I have stupidly stayed up way too late and still aren't going to bed even though I'm down to only 6 hours sleep, and hitching on not-enough sleep is silly.

I haven't found a room to rent in Zagreb yet, but I at least have somewhere to stay for the first few days.

Cindi Lauper's songs seem to get better with age. I think I'll go play True Colours again.

Wednesday, January 21


I had resisted posting anything* about Obama or the inauguration, as it really shouldn't concern me (not my country, why should I care) except that as self-appointed rulers of the universe, US politics affects everyone, doesn't it.
But here I am catching up on reading Slog's coverage of yesterday's ceremony, and I just saw the new president on tv for the first time (for me, I mean. I'm sure there's been little else on tv lately, but I hadn't seen it, had I), and I find myself somewhat moved. I'm sure Obama will do plenty of things that piss me off while he is President, but for the moment, it seems pretty amazing to have a leader that inspires something other than scorn, derision and all the other negative feelings. And, as a bonus, he's literate! And can speak in whole sentences!
I'm so impressed.
I think what is most affecting is the feeling of hope and the promise of great things to come. And I agree a lot with this post.

I felt just like this about a year ago when Rudd replaced the midget methodist master Howard. Of course, as I've pretty much completely stopped following australian news, I have no idea how that is going these days. I'm sure I will hear lots about Obama's presidency though.

*yeah, I know. I've successfully resisted posting anything at all lately, haven't I... I'll get there sometime.

Saturday, January 17

The people you meet

This has been on my phone for a week waiting for of to find wifi to upload it! I've had net access but no wifi! Anyway, i'm now back in sarajevo, and made an effort to get this online!

The people you meet.
I've just spent a night in Zadar, and an in the middle of an adventure trying to get out of the city to my chosen hitching spot.
I worked out from the extremely non-geographical bus map that bus 2 was probably my best bet for getting to vaguely the right part of town. But i was at the wrong bus stop for the no. 2, so i attempted to walk to the right one. I had no idea if i was on the right road (the bus mass don't have anything as useful as streets marked), and the stop i found was the first one i had seen with absolutely on information. Typical, no? So i asked a little old lady if the next stop would take me to the bus station (where all the buses go, so i could transfer to the 2 there). She said yes, and then proceeded to tell me lots of things i didn't entirely understand, despite my 'samo malo hrvatski' protestations. She told me about her bells palsy that made it hard to talk, and then about ads brother in canberra. The next bus arrived, and happened to be a 2, and on the bus we continued our conversation. And she gave me not one, but 2 four leaf clovers, laminated onto cards with the dm drugstore logo, but still, very sweet of her.
Of course, when we arrived at the bus station, i had to explain that i wasn't taking a bus to Rijeka, but hitching, and therefore wanted to stay on the bus. Communication was being a little slow, but a lady behind us suddenly piped up in german, and said the bus was just going to the centre. I got off to check the bus map again, which didn't help, and in the end decided to ask the driver if he was going where i wanted.
To my great surprise, he answered my pigin croatian question in an accent more australian than mine. One of those old fashioned european immigrant accents that make me think of melbourne. And sure enough, it turns out he spent many years in melbourne, but left a few decades ago.
So i was able to explain where i wanted to go, and he said 'are you hitching?', to which i said yes, and he told me to wait 20 mins, and his next run would take me exactly where i wanted to go. He said he'd drop me off in a good place.
So i spent to 20 mins waiting, and now i'm back on his bus, presumably heading the right way!

A few hours later... Well, since then, i've spent ages standing waiting at toll booths, including one in the snow, 3 rides, including one sharing the back of a tiny car (a yugo, i think) with 2 dozen eggs and a dead wolf, and one offer to take me to Rijeka in return for services i wasn't willing to render.
And now i'm in a truck heading for zagreb. I had both signs out- for rijeka and zg, as standing in the snow was not being pleasant, and i wanted to give every car that passed (there was only about 1 or 2 every 5mins) as many options as possible. Rijeka was a late addition to my plans anyway, so it seems somehow right that i'm not going to get there. I was sorry to miss the coast road, anyway, but it seemed risky to in that way- the highway was likely to be faster, and i didn't want to get stuck at dusk in some tiny place. I'll have to come back sometime in warmer weather, when i can hitch the coast road with a tent, and not care where i end up.
That truck dropped me at the toll booth in zg, which wasn't the most useful place to be in the freezing cold and the dark, but i managed to get a ride in only about 10 mins or less, with a lovely young guy who took me all the way to a useful tram stop that took me to where i an staying. And told me that today was the coldest winter day this winter, with temps from -13 to -7. Considering i had planned to stay on the coast today and had therefore dressed for the positive temps, it's no wonder i was cold!

Monday, January 5

Here's another adventure. The last guy who picked me up just outside Ploce, is so excited that i'm australian, he now wants to drive me 80km out of his way all the way to split. He has a sister in sydney, you see, and visited her 20years ago for 3 months. His few words of english, german, and my collection of random bosnian words are enough.
So now i'm in his holiday apartment block in some small town, drinking nescafe and attempting to make conversation without really having a language...
3 hours later... My friend Stipe got me all the way to the centre of town in Split, and managed to only be slightly inappropriate once. And then he was so guilty, he drove me all the here. And gave me a pack of socks and a zip up cardigan (he apparently sells them) and a bunch of food, so i did ok out of it!
The 2 rides i had before that were good, too. Once i got to a decent spot out of Dubrovnik, the second bar stopped, with a lovely lady who drove me 20km past her house, just for fun. Then i waited a half hour or so before a small truck picked me up. We spoke entirely in croatian. Interesting that i seem to manage that now. Big difference from the last hitching i did here! I still resort to sorry i don't understand a bit, though!
So now i'm in the main square in Split, using the free net, as the one in the hostel is down, so my fingers are beginning to freeze, and i think it's time to go inside!

Leaving Dubrovnik

So yesterday wasn't good. Today is/will be better. I got nearly enough sleep, buried under 6 blankets in the unheated hostel room, the sun is attempting to shine, the shops are actually open, so i've eaten something that isn't pizza and managed to change some BAM into kuna, and there's an easy bus to what i hope is a good hitching point to split. It just doesn't in very often, so i've got half an hour to wait. But then i should be at the spot by 2.30 (late start, but it's only 200-something km to Split). My shoe is still held together with plastic bag string, but hopefully i'll find something better sometime today or tomorrow. Like a shoe repair person. That would be good.
Dubrovnik, i'm told, is the most expensive town on the coast. It's definitely very pretty, and the walk around the walls was very impressive, but it feels like a town that only exists for tourists, and is only a shadow of itself in the off-season. The combination of shops and services that close completely for the winter, and the few remaining professional tourist-hasslers, is not a good one.
Here's hoping Split is better!

Sunday, January 4

crap things that happened today

I woke up cold due to the heating being turned off overnight.
I woke up in a HI hostel with institutional bilious-yellow shiny walls.
The 'coffee' that came with breakfast wasn't. It was chicory, and horrible chicory at that, served with old milk.
The coffee I paid for after that was watery.
The sole mostly separated from my boot (technically last night, but still). They are my only shoes here.
I discovered Croatia's new law that prevents shops opening on sunday. I couldn't buy even sticky tape to fix my shoe, or anything to eat that didn't come from a restaurant.
I spent the first hour stopping every 5 minutes to fix the bit of plastic bag I was using to hold my shoe together. Eventually I worked out a system that worked. It's so stylish to have a strip of plastic bag tying your shoe together.
I failed to get a single response to any of my messages to couchsurfers on the Croatian coast.
I ended up paying 18euro for an unheated hostel room (not in the horrible HI though).
I've spent the last two hours in the hostel cafe/common room thingy with no one but the girl behind the bar, and the music is loud and awful.
I don't know what I'm doing because I suddenly don't feel like my original plan (Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka, Zagreb, Sarajevo) is a good idea, given the lack of couchsurfing possibilities, and the expense of the coast, even in the off season.
Maybe I should find a ferry to Italy instead.
This place is about to close, and I still don't know where I'm going tomorrow. And if I'm hitching, I should probably start early!

and montenegro makes 58

Early in the morning of january 2nd, Anne and i set off through the snow to find the Sarajevo East bus station, way out in scary Serbian SJ. We managed quite successfully (travel tip: follow the people with suitcases. They're probably going to the station! Or to grandma's house or something, which could be just as interesting...) and the bus to Podgorica that we wanted really did exist, which was nice (wikitravel provides the most extensive and reliable bus time info i've found in SJ!).
Next came 6 hours of amazing snowy mountains, icy one-lane, two-way windy roads, with sheer cliffs on either side (one side going, up, the other down, obviously) and precisely zero toilet breaks (two girls tried to have one at one of the bus stations and got left behind! They were delivered back to us 20mins later by a car that caught up to the bus. The driver seemed quite unfazed.) In the last half hour of the trip, the snow suddenly disappeared, and the hills became greener, and by the time we arrived, it was about 15 degrees or something ridiculous.
We met our couchsurfer host, Steve, who showed up his place to leave our stuff, then took us out to explore podgorica while it was still light. It's not a big city, but with 2 rivers running through it, there are some pretty corners. Mostly, though, we wandered randomly and talked to steve, who is another nomad like myself, really, and has only been in the city a few months. He's working on opening Podgorica's first hostel, which is a bit of a foreign concept there!
The next morning we were again up early to get a bus to Kotor, the prettiest town on the Montenegrin coast. A few hours wandering about there, sheltering from the cold winds and fans drizzle whenever we could, and we were on another bus to Herceg-Novi, another seaside town, but on the open sea, not a big sheltered bay. We had just enough time to wander from one end of town to the other, pausing for a hot chocolate on a seaside terrace (yes, outdoors! In january!)

Friday, January 2


On new year's eve, i finally got to make pizza. Anne and i had an impromptu party of people we barely knew at her place, and she made pumpkin soup and apple and ginger desert.
We were in the centre for midnight, dodging fireworks (fireworks in the streets let off by drunk kids should really be illegal! It was scary!) and then on to kino bosna for new year reveling.
Quite a successful New Year's eve, i think!