The first kiss came out of nowhere, such a startling escalation of what mere seconds ago had been a completely innocent situation that I couldn’t dodge quickly enough and so felt wide lips land squarely on my left eye. Lesson learned: ask to take a picture of your Romanian cab driver and the request may just be horribly misconstrued.
The second kiss, a few days later, was a little more furtive; a new acquaintance leaning over for an awkward hug and taking the opportunity to peck the back of my neck. Two surprise smooches in and I began to suspect I was on something of a Romanian rollercoaster. Little did I know just how rough the ride was about to get.Read More
A young woman was abducted and slain here just a few months ago, torn from the prime of her life as she walked home alone in the wee hours of the morning. Then came another attack, another young woman beaten and raped but this time mercifully allowed to escape with her life, the daughter of a local dignitary left bleeding and bruised.
That such cruelty could be acted out in such a peacefully picturesque place as Pécs, in southwest Hungary, seemed almost inconceivable. Locals were shocked, disturbed. And so, one day last week as I rounded a corner and stepped into Pécs’ main shopping street, I happened upon a peaceful protest, perhaps more a show of solidarity, dozens walking quietly en masse bearing sombre banners urging the city’s population to take care of each other.Read More
It’s a small city with a smaller centre, the once-sizeable historical old quarter torn down in great swathes by utilitarian Communists and replaced by vast, featureless cubes. So, after a few days ambling the curiously contrasting streets of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, I felt I had seen most everything and was ready to move on. Then I wandered into a temporary bookstore.Read More
I arrived after dark, clutching a small box of homemade Polish cakes sent with me from Kraków but somewhat crushed (sorry, Aga!) during the seven-hour train journey to Žilina in northern Slovakia. Katarina met me at the station and we took a hair-raising car ride through slippery streets to her home, the Madman grinning maniacally from behind the wheel all the while. So began the most rambunctious, surprising and at times frightening Easter weekend of my life.Read More
Greetings from Europe, where the weather seem to have forgotten that spring has sprung and instead continues to shower long-suffering residents and newly-arrived Australians with frigid snow. I left sunny Sydney last week and was greeted in Poland by a -12 degree day – just a bit of a shock!Read More
The past month or so has been an utter paradox for me, full of relaxation and leisurely experiences with dear old friends yet simultaneously one of the most mentally challenging periods in my life thus far. Last December I quit my job, sold my car, gave up my room and basically packed up my life in Brisbane in preparation for my impending move to Spain … only to have to wait and wait and wait some more for my visa to be approved.Read More