Choosing new tracks

I am currently pioneering what I’m going to refer to as “hot-sleeping”. Not as sexy as it sounds I’m afraid! Akin to the concept of hot-desking, where one finds oneself a new base on a regular basis; hot-sleeping sees the individual moving from place to place in order to find a place to rest one’s head. This week I have slept on my sister’s floor, in my sister’s bed and in the coming weeks will sleep in my old bed (now semi-belonging to my grandmother) and the sofa bed (once it returns from the upholsterer!).

Oxford and I have officially broken up for the time being. I got tired of fighting the minimum wage war and it got tired of fighting me. I’ve been scouting for jobs in London with no success. I love London but apparently London doesn’t love me quite so much. So, after sitting down and taking a long hard look at my life and myself, I re-applied for a teaching job I was offered in Indonesia a few months ago.

When I started my degree four years ago, it was because I wanted to study other cultures, create a dialogue with them and basically expand my own understanding of humanity as a whole. I always wanted to be a writer and work for someone like National Geographic; documenting the far corners of the world and their wonders. Somewhere along the line, I lost any sense of ambition. Possibly because I am one of those people who never took a gap year. I’ve been stuck to the education framework since before I can remember. It may sound mad, but I struggle with the fact that I am 22! It sounds weird when I say my age out loud in a way that suggests I never truly thought about what happened after being 21.

Our deepest dreams and desires never truly leave us, despite what we may do, or have done to us, to cover them up. They reside in our subconscious and influence which opportunities we take and how much effort we put into each one that we’re given. A lot of us get lost in the clamour of “what we should do” according to society/parents/friends. I know I’m one of those people. Perhaps all the recruiters that read my applications could simply tell that I knew I could thrive in the role but not as much as I could if I followed my actual intentions for my life.

The exciting news is that I received another offer of employment and I will soon be jetting off to the other side of the planet to teach English. I’ll also be getting into photography and travel blogging, whist maintaining some freelance writing work.

The upheaval in my life over the past few days really highlighted just how cosy I had become. I’ve never had such an extreme feeling of being afraid of leaving my comfort zone. It shocked me because I always intended to be adventurous and flexible. I’m pretty sure if I didn’t leave now, I would stay in Oxford until I was an old crone. So, I pulled the plug on my Oxford life and watched it disappear into an invisible drain. The white walls of my room slowly became exposed from the top down; books, pictures, ornaments, all vanishing into boxes and most going to charity or recycle. Half of my electronic existence disappeared into a black hole when I reset my iPad and sold it to my dad.

Life is stripping me back down to my basics and preparing me for somewhere new.

/Bristol //UK ///2013

Bristol, home of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and one awesome nature reserve that will awaken the hidden climber in anybody! There is also a secret tunnel hidden in one of the outcrops of rock which is just about big enough to creep through if you crouch. Wielding the dim light of phone before you is recommended; whilst there is a wooden runner through the tunnel to help guide you, it does get a bit crowded and I hit my head pretty hard. Definitely not for the claustrophobic! The realisation that there is over a tonne of rock above you is awe-inspiring and is likely to steal the breath slightly unless you are used to caving.

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten its name, but I am going to chase it up and report back! For now, here are pictures!

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/Budapest //Hungary ///2013

Sometimes you see things that make you cry because they are so beautiful. This sunrise was one of those things. Possibly because I haven’t been up early enough to see a sunrise for months, possibly years. Of course, it could have been sleep deprivation. Either way, nothing could could capture the beauty of this sunrise, especially not my point-and-shoot camera.

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The yellow disc of the sun crept up behind a copse of trees far off in the field, creating a stark black silhouette and chasing the deep blue out of the sky, flooding it with gently changing oranges. There wasn’t a cloud in sight and as the sun climbed higher than the trees the dusky grey cornfields turned to gold. It felt like an honour to watch and for once I knew what the word “majesty” meant.

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The sunrise was technically still in Serbia but the Serbian post got a bit long so I decided to elaborate on it! Make sure you have The Circle of Life from the Lion King on your iPod/mp3 player – trust me, you are going to want to sing along!

Anyway, our priorities changed, or rather were fulfilled, by the stunning city of Budapest. Judge if you will but we did go mostly go to Eastern Europe to party our stressed socks off The next two days passed in a blur, filled with trippy animals, labyrinthine clubs and a lot of mineral water! Exhibit A…

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One of the most recommended clubs by any visitor to Budapest is Instant. Here you will find several floors of varying degrees of house and electronic music. It’s a also a great place to go if you want to feel like you’ve tumbled down a rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland like Alice. I give you, Exhibit B…

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We also hit up a late night pool party at one of the old bath houses – a definite must! Our hostel manager didn’t seem to approve of our intention to party but I stand by my assessment that it was a great fusion of modern night culture and historical site!

Also, an interesting point about the bars we visited in Budapest; many of them had some very deep and philosophical things written on the toilet walls…

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Never fear, we did do some sight seeing too. Budapest has some stunning architecture with its central train station and mosque being two must-see highlights.

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And this was the last bit of sunshine we saw for several days. British skies always insist that I need another shower!

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/Serbia //Belgrade ///2013

Bonjour!

Welcome to my first travel post! Some of you may recall my previous post about buying new Red or Dead “seven league boots”, i.e. the ones that I intended to wear every day for several years.  Unfortunately, a heel snapped off of one of them. Fortunately, I bought a new pair of awesome combat boots from New Yorker in Belgrade!

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First impressions of the city are that it was once a very regal and beautiful place. There’s some beautiful colonial-era architecture. However, most of the buildings have been stripped of their plaster and are now mostly exposed brick. Almost every one of them is grey with what I’m assuming is decades of grime. It’s not ugly, though, for that rather unhappy-sounding description. It’s actually charming in a way. We stayed in Skadarlija Sunrise Hostel, located on a sweet cobbled road in Old Belgrade. Well, sweet if you’re sober, lethal if you’re slightly inebriated! Stripy awnings and pot plants explode from both sides of the road – every building is a restaurant and several of them have a pretty girl stood outside with a menu to try catch you as you stumble down the street.

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If you’re looking for a cheap holiday then Belgrade is a good place to go. Here, you can pick up a large pizza for around 4 pounds.

We ran into our first cultural difficulty on the first night. It turns out that clubbing is very much a Friday; Saturday and Sunday affair in Belgrade, despite being a capital city. We were told by several locals that there are literally no clubs open during the week. The lack of clubbing didn’t mean that Belgrade was quiet at night: quite the opposite. All the restaurants I mentioned are open late into the night and each one has its own four/five piece band playing music all evening!

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Do not fear if you are looking for a night out; there are plenty of bars, but Belgrade mid-week is definitely the area of Eastern Europe you go to for a fairly quite drink. My friends and I, being crazy British, managed to convince one boat bar, The Lebowski, to let us take over their DJ decks. We dropped some tasty dubstep for the rest of the night, attracting in a load of Cambridge kids and some French travellers. The moral? You can make a party anywhere if you bug the bartender enough!

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The best place to find bars is in Novi Belgrade; literally “New Belgrade”. Here you’ll find fantastic looking restaurants lining the west side of the river. My personal recommendation would be Splay; a bar floating on the river. This is a very chic haunt, equipped with a liquor cabinet longer than my friend is tall (6’4″) and some sexy furniture. It is the home of The Flaming Lamborghini. Try if you dare…

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A handy tip for drinkers: stay away from the local rakija! And if you can’t, remember this: it reacts with water in the stomach to produce gas; therefore drinking water to help recover from a hangover of this type won’t help. Eat food! I learned this the hard way on my first night. Unfortunately, this pearl of wisdom wasn’t shared with me until 9am the next morning. I started being ill at 4am. It hurt.

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During the day, there are plenty of cool places to explore. We made of point of visiting the Tesla Museum where you get to see a real Tesla coil in action. For those who don’t know (because I didn’t before I went!), this is what it does…

There is also a huge fort on one of the bends of the river which is worth a visit. For those who enjoy military history, there’s a museum at the top with some of the most savage weapons I have ever seen. Also a hilarious skull with a hole for a mouth…

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I also captured some of the street art/graffiti around the city…

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And then we moved on to Budapest via one speedy overnight minibus and one stunning sunrise…

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Beating the rain…

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Greetings followers!

Apologies it’s been a while, I’m going through a rather extreme state of flux at the moment! My internship in marketing is over and I am now flailing around trying to find the next step. I’ve found myself in training to be a barista, which is proving to be a lot of fun. I love being on my feet and, oh my, it is SO therapeutic to smack used coffee dust out of the basket! I feel a lot freer and happier, the money is just enough and I have plans for the future.

Anyway, this isn’t about ME it’s about YOU, or just in general a little bit of wisdom I’ve gained over the past two weeks. You see, it’s gotten a bit rainy over here in jolly old England and it’s managed to start raining just as I need to leave whatever shelter I’ve found (home, work, café). Life can sometimes feel this way; no matter how hard you’re trying you keep getting caught out in the rain and things just aren’t going to plan or as well as they could! There are two things I learned:

  1. Persevere and keep an eye on the end goal (the next place of shelter!). It doesn’t rain on anyone forever. No, seriously, it doesn’t. It can rain for a bloody long time but it will stop.
  2. Actually, getting caught out in the rain isn’t always bad. It’s nice to feel an unusual sensation. Let’s face it, it rains a lot here but you usually watch it from indoors! How often do you actually go outside and feel it for more than a few minutes? In the same way, you can enjoy… savour(?)… some hardships. We can get a bit too cosy in life and they’re there to push our boundaries.

So, if you’re flapping around like a guppy, as I am right now; take a deep breath! Feel the rain! Keep going! Because, you know what? I beat the rain home yesterday! I ran into my house and bam! As I shut the door, the heavens opened. I was so happy that I beat it that I actually danced a little and told at least 3 people on Facebook!

Happy wanderings, friends!

Lizzie

Dance to Change the World

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling all happy and inspired, I tend to dance around my room. What I don’t tend to do is dance when the going gets tough. Then, I slouch and mope and generally look as graceful as a rhino as it horn-rams a tree.

What do I know about dance? It frees your soul. If you’re not into that sort of terminology then, scientifically, it releases endorphins and makes you happy. Whichever way you want to slice it, if you want to turn your frown upside down a quick twerk or pas de chat (or a wizard combination of both!) could really help.

However, this is all on a very me-me-me level and what this lady, Mallika Sarabhai, has to say is far more important. Give the video a go. it’s all about how dance can be used to change perceptions and how it could be a key to dramatic world change…

Art can go through where other things can’t. You can’t have barriers, because it breaks through your prejudices, breaks through everything that you have as your mask, that says, “I am this, I am that, I am that.” No. It breaks through those. And it reaches somewhere where other things don’t. And in a world where attitudes are so difficult to change, we need a language that reaches through.