Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stay Tuned

If you are interested in more little Robyn thoughts and adventures, you can find me over here.
SA Teacup is a small little space to catch the overflow of ideas, and stories from the ultimate Tea Pot... Me :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

But was it worth it?

Well, here we are.
The last trip is long gone. The farewell is over. The Bon Voyage boat cake (thanks Nick and Katie) was eaten. Karaoke songs were sung.
And now, here I sit, writing my final blog post for what has been an UNBELIEVABLE year, sipping on coffee, nibbling on Amarula choccies, trying to calm the butterflies in my tummy and asking myself "Well? Was it all worth it?"

The answer, my friends, is hell yes!

So I thought I'd share a couple of things I have learnt along the way. About myself. About kids. About Munich and its inhabitants. About travelling, and life in general.

1. Kids are like bears. They can smell hormones (and emotion) and are able to pick out the single sore part of your body, and they pounce.
2. There is no such thing as a peaceful pee while there are kids in your charge. Especially once they're used to you. Just expect the door handle to rattle.
3. It is very hard for a 6 year old to stay still. Especially with half and hour of reading homework. Just close your eyes and open them every 10 seconds and observe the new, odd, and sometimes quite uncomfortable looking positions.
4. With kids, it is important to always factor in the time it will take you to convince them that it is actually time to leave/ get ready to leave.
5. A first grade teacher is the best arsenal in your pack. Failure to impress him/her is obviously a Big Deal at that age.
6. Little girls love baking. And sugar. Mostly the coloured, icing-y kind.
7. I have only had a kid ask to be taken to bed once. I didn't need wine that day.
8. Girls cry when they're grumpy (ok, I guess I knew that already)
9. Kids are not accustomed to hiding scorn or disapproval. Whether it is with regards to your outfit, choice of meal, shoes or previous stomach flu, the world will know their thoughts.
10. I am NOT ready for kids. Let's talk in 5 years or so.
11. A glass of wine might not take the problem or last 3 hours of your life away, but it will calm you down and ease your troubles.
12. Screaming/ hitting/ fighting kids make less than ideal travel partners. Unless you have incredibly long arms and can reach back from the front seat while concentrating on the road. (I don't/ can't).
13. While cycling and walking every where is great, I do miss my car. There's something about that get-in-and-go feeling you get from a car that prompt, clean and safe public transport just can't replace.
14. A hungry kid is a grumpy one.
15. A hungry Robyn is a grumpy one.
16. If you're using public transport, timing is everything. Too early in the morning and it's super crowded. Too late on a summer afternoon and you get all the stinky's going home instead of the polished going out.
17. Initially I blamed the iron, but then I realised... it could be me.
18. Initially I blamed the washing machine, but then I realised... it could be me.
19. 17&18 are things that improve with practise. Damn
20. Things I'm not particularly good at but really enjoy: Running, skiing, hiking.
21. Snow is slippery.
22. You get different things from different people.
23. There is NO replacement for time with your girlfriends. Trust me, I looked.
24. I like my space.
25. Kids invade space.
26. I really miss Woolies. And English food labels
27. I really hope my Afrikaans comes back... I think in German now
28. Regardless of how much I miss my friends and family, there's something about being anonymous in a city.
29. Although I wasn't a speed racer before, driving in Germany has made me a little cautious. It might have something to do with all the Porches.
30. If you forget your book, your fellow train riders can provide you with plenty of entertainment.
31. Cold weather without snow now seems pointless.
32. I acclimatise to different weather very quickly.
33. Airports. The lack of customer service, and inability for about 80% of the fellow travelers to prepare correctly can become slightly annoying.
34. There is far too much to see/learn/experience in this world to ever stop travelling.
35. There is a lot I don't know about a lot of things. I hope I never stop learning and asking questions.
36. I am happiest when I have a lot going on (probably because I have less time to analyse things). That being said... I am not sure how I am going to go back to waking up before 7:30.
37.  It takes me approximately 15 minutes to drink a cup of tea.
38. I have heard the kids say a lot of things that rang a bell. Cringe. Sorry mom and dad!
39. Frank is going to get a porsche from me one day.
40. You don't get butternut in Munich, and lamb is ridiculously expensive.
41. Germans make really good pastry. And beer. And pretzels.
42. There is an Irish pub where ever you go.
43. Kids go from nice to horrible in 0-5 seconds. The journey back to nice is remarkably slower.
44. The people of Munich wear practical shoes for a few reasons:
- There is a lot of walking and riding of bicycles to and from work. (I believe heels are kept under desks or in handbags).
- They are German, therefore practical.
- Weather can go from sweltering to thunder storms in about 5 minutes, slops are therefore not ideal (esp if you are walking).
- It is typically German to wear "Haus schuhe" or socks indoors. Putting socks over dirty feet is gross.
45. Some things just don't translate. e.g. "Robyn, why do you have naked feet?"
46. If you are travelling to a place with sandy beaches, and have no intention of maintaining your pedi while you're there (and no, I don't mean putting on layer after layer until you have 3D nail polish on your toes) then go bare. The girls of the world could really use a lesson in toe nail maintenance.
47. There are a lot of Americans that have not developed the capability of talking softly.
48. A year is a decent amount of time to get attached to someone. It's the way it is explained that is so interesting. "You say 'I'll be there now' and that means later, and what if our new au pair says she'll there now and comes straight away!?"

I have to just say a few thank yous to the people that made this year possible:

1. Mom and Dad. Thank you for raising me the way you did. Thank you for teaching me to say please, thank you, and hello. Thank you for the chores and pocket money, and for letting me know when I was doing something wrong/ rude. Thank you for teaching me to dress myself, cut my own food, chew with my mouth closed and take my own socks off. To carry what I brought with me, and to be responsible for my own things. Thank you for teaching me the value of things, and how to be grateful for what I have.
Thank you for letting me be an adult, but letting me get ahead of myself.

2. To Nat and Warren - The looker-after-ers!

3. To my Family and Friends.
Thank you for taking the time to read and look at pics. And for the constant encouragement to see more!
Thank you for the parcels filled with tea, and the postcards.
Thank you for the support, and the gossip. For the skype dates and perfectly timed messages.
Thank you for all the love.

4. And of course... To Frank.
With out you, this year would not have happened. And if for some reason it did, it would have been incredibly dull without you to share it with, less than a third of the trips, a lot more tears and a whole lot less laughs and mis-adventures. You are QUITE a wonderful man! x

From now on, if you need me, you can find me over at SA Teacup
I do hope you'll stop by for a cup every now and then.

So from Robyn In Germany... That's all folks!

Thank you and good night.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Norwegian Mountaineers

It started late on a Thursday night. Three South African explorers ventured out into the streets of Oslo. Searching for an alcoholic beverage past 11pm. Some called us crazy, but we knew the truth.... We were thirsty, and our hostel smelt a bit funny. We managed to find an establishment equipped with the relevant necessities, and so began our venture into our Very Expensive (wow, it's crazy over there!) Norwegian Adventure.

We rose early from our bunks, and set off for Stavanger to begin preparations for our mission. We scoured the streets for artwork, and then set off to the beach for some Ben and Jerry's. Naturally, we couldn't go to just any beach. Only the longest stretch of sandy beaches in Norway would do for us.

After a quick nap (even explorers need naps) we took a drive to some of the connecting islands (via very long, underwater tunnels) where the three of us marveled at the sun set while we talked about our travel dreams and adventure goals, as well as the very distinct difference between being and explorer, exploring and adventuring. We then set out for a quick dinner and drink to revitalise our bodies and loosen up our joints, before fetching team member number 4, Jae "the ballerina" Lake (aka. the provider of the hilarious, yet valuable, Rules for Life, and our token Australian) around midnight, made possible by the 7Eleven Hazelnut flavoured coffee that kept our eyes alert and on the look out for Jae.

Two more team members joined us in the morning, Ken and Lisha - South Africans on exchange in Copenhagen, and then finally Murray "the Captain" arrived. Our team was now complete.
6 South Africans, 1 Australian, 2 cars and a whole lot of winding road ahead.

We reached the base site at about 10am, and so began our mission. Hiking up Kjerag.
We had been warned that it was tricky (Actually, about three people asked us if we were sure we didn't want to do an easier hike first) but we set off anyway.

It pains me to admit, but I was the lagger. Unfit, and hucking up phlegm, I maintained the rear position for most of the initial climb, but found my breath and climbing feet somewhere on the first downhill. Part mountain goat, part reverse spider, I persevered. We persevered. And with a little team work, and a whole bunch of water breaks, we made it. 6km there, and appox. 1km UP, we stood in line to have our photos taken on top of The Boulder, and Close To The Edge, before starting the 6km trek back to the base. Coming down was definitely easier, although some parts involved sliding down on our bottoms while pondering how we had actually gotten up there, but we did it. In a pretty good time too!

We piled our stinky bodies into the cars and made our way to the ferry that was to take us to our beds for the night, at the bottom of the hike up to Pulpit Rock. The ferry ride was quiet, most of us sleeping, eating hotdogs and enjoying the incredible scenery. After dinner, and a couple of bottles of wine (ok, more than a couple), we hit the sack. I'm pretty sure everyone fell asleep really fast, at least I did. Until I was woken up by the guy on the bunk below me, who was snoring so heavily that the whole bed was vibrating. It was then that I heard the rain. It was coming down pretty hard.

I lay awake for a while, listening while the wind picked up, waiting for the rest of the team to wake up so we could deliberate the days hike. After a shower and a much needed breakfast we made the call not to hike up to Pulpit Rock. Even though it is meant to be an easier hike, we didn't have the right equipment for this weather, so falling/ slipping would mean some serious injuries, and we were limited w.r.t. time. So we ventured back into Stavanger for a meander around the port, found an amazing coffee shop in what we've dubbed "the colourful street" and that's where we stayed until it was time for our flight back to Oslo.

A shower and sleep in Oslo and then back to the airport, back to Munich, and back to work.
And then our last weekend away was over, and the only things left to look forward to are our farewell and flights back to SA. Say whaaaat?

Our year couldn't have ended with a better trip. It was calm and serene and beautiful beyond any words I will ever be able to string together. The best I can do is say "Look for yourself."
A big thank you to the team for such wonderful company and spirit. Special mention must, of course, be made of The Beavs, our team mascot. I am well and truly Beaver Fevered.

Well, go on then...

My kind of artwork!!

These little piles of stones were all over, the whole way to and up the mountain.

I was approached by these sheep in the parking lot before the hike. I may have yelped a little, and I'm sorry for that, but I've never been approached by sheep before... what was I to do?

I added a stone to this pile. I'll have to go back and find it some day.

The Beavs after our post-hike wine drinking

The Beavs enjoying a little latte

Next up is our farewell. SA vs Aussie rugby game at the Irish pub, back to our place for a BRAAI in the park (with wors, potato salad, pap and garlic bread nogal) and then out on the town. Time for us Saffa's to (finally) teach the rest of this bunch how it's done.

p.s. this is my 100th blog post! Thanks for reading!