Aiming High

“What happened?” say the guy on the bus to his friend.

“She was too high maintenance,” was the response.

A look of understanding passed between them and we all know exactly what they are talking about.

I am just going to say it- I am definitely not high maintenance. Having always been a laid- back-easy – going- beer-drinking Aussie chick from the country, being high maintenance is not in my DNA.

But what’s so wrong with being one of those women that takes three hours to get ready, demands flowers before a date and a bottle of Verve on arrival? These girls always seem to get what they want.

You know who they are. These are the girls who always get the handbag that they want, the size of the diamond ring they want and the house they want- most of this acquired by causing drama, maximising on their good looks and using emotional blackmail.

They are the ones who always look stunning in the social pages, receive dramatic proposals from millionaires and never have to work again. And what’s so wrong with that?

Sometimes I wish I had been more high maintenance and then who knows where I would have ended up?! I could have been a socialite or married a royal or be living in a million dollar mansion.

But I can’t change my nature and think of all the hours I have saved by not preening and pursuing and pouting at my partner to get what I want.

The amount of time and energy that needs to be put into wearing the right thing, going to the right places and being seen is a luxury that I can’t afford.

So, power to you all you high maintenance lasses out there- shoot for the stars. It’s too late for me so I guess I am stuck being low maintenance where being myself is just good enough.

Related posts: The New Bachelor Australia, Kicking Goals, Relationships: My five (per) cents worth

Romania, 1997

It was 1 degree Celsius when Sarah and I arrived in Bucharest and I had a cold.

Heading to the local department store in search of tissues and gloves, we were confronted by the lack of stock that was held in the shops. The buildings were even more run-down than in Sophia and we didn’t feel safe enough to stay the night.

New large block buildings were found next to old larger ruined buildings. A museum in a Victorian- like building was next to a desolate concrete monstrosity. The Intercontinental Hotel on the main street supplied us with a map and we headed to the House of the Republic which is the largest building in Europe.

Heading down the Victory of Socialism Boulevard lined with various memorial statues, we reached the TV station that was the site of fighting in 1989. Bullet holes could still be seen in the walls outside and there was a memorial out the front.

We went back to the train station as we did not want to get lost in the dark. When we got there, there were soldiers with guns everywhere who wouldn’t let us in the train station waiting room until we showed them our tickets.

The train had no platform allocated, but a man whose wife works at the train station found out for us. He made sure we got on the right carriage with other people and gave me aspirin for my cold. His job was selling Swiss scrap wood, so he gave us his number in case anyone back in England was interested.

It is hard to imagine that Bucharest was once a tourist destination and was called the Paris of Eastern Europe, but we did find an Arc de Triumph exactly like the one in Paris.

Related posts: Bulgaria, 1997Turkey, 1997Greece, 1997Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella ItaliaItaly, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to FlorenceSpain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona,  Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona,  France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: ParisBelgium, 1997Holland, 1997England, 1997I first started travellingBy special requestHome is where you make itI first started writing

O-P-I don’t mind if I do!

I’m just going to say it- I am addicted to OPI nail polish.

Their clever marketing has sucked me in and now I can stop despite the fact that I have over 30 bottles of nail polish that I have no hope of ever using in my lifetime.

I discovered OPI nail polish when my bestie took me to my first manicure. Shortly afterwards, I purchased Ali’s Big Break as red is my favourite colour.

Next I bought Princesses Rule following a manicure session for my cousins wedding. A pale pink colour that was recommended as it could go with everything.

And with that- I was hooked!

Next came Purple with a Purpose and Austin-tatious Turquoise as my next two favourite colours. And I thought, ok let’s stop there.

But, then I found Grand Canyon Sunset and the obsession really began. They make nail polish after places in the world?! I must have all of the ones from my favourite places in the world that I have been to.

I started with the Coleccion de España- the Spanish collection- and once I obtained all eight colours in that collection I moved onto the six colours of La Collection De France- the French collection. By now it didn’t matter what the colours were or if they suited me as long as they belonged to the right collection.

I was dismayed to find that the London collection had been discontinued and New York only had a collection for the ballet company- not the city. There was also no Vancouver collection, so I settled with a bottle of Chocolate Moose from the Canadian collection.

When the San Francisco collection came out in 2013, I was majorly excited and bought the mini collection as soon as it hit the shops in Australia. I had realised that buying full bottles was not a viable option for me anymore as my bathroom cabinet was full to the brim.

As a preview of some places that are covered/are to come on the travel side of my blog, below are some other bottles of OPI nail polish that I own as places I have travelled to:

  • Vampsterdam (Holland)
  • You’re a Pisa work (Italy)
  • Euro Centrale mini collection (Hungary, Czech Republic).
  • Berlin there done that (Germany)
  • Big Apple Red (New York)
  • Diva of Geneva (Switzerland)
  • My address is Hollywood (USA)
  • Royal Flush Blush (Las Vegas)
  • Cozumelted in the sun (Mexico).

I wonder what they will come out with next?!

Related posts: Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella ItaliaItaly, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to FlorenceSpain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona,  Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona,  France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Holland, 1997England, 1997, Canada, 1997, USA, 1990

Bulgaria, 1997

When Sarah and I arrived in Sophia we decided that we would only spend the day here, so we left our luggage at the Novotel across the road and headed to what looked like the main street. It was hard to tell as the Cyrillic alphabet is used here so street signs and maps are hard to read.

There was a KFC, a Dunkin Donuts and lion statues peering at us through the mist on Garibaldi square. Tram lines criss crossed around cheap local food stalls and police look out boxes on street corners.

Getting lost in the back streets, we found lots of puppies, bleak run down houses and buildings undergoing restoration. The Banya Bashi mosque only had one minaret and the locals were filling their water bottles in the square out the front.

The tiny Church of St Petka of the Saddlers below street level had a crypt which was like a cave inside. While the huge St Nedelya church had pictures of the people who were killed when church was blown up by the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1925 in attempt to assassinate members of the police hierarchy.

After getting freaked out by the communist statues in Yuzhen Park, we went to meet Dan at one of the two Cindy’s Cinnamon Rolls. It was really good to see a friendly face in an unfriendly environment and we were glad that we found him.

It was hard to find a bar, so when we did we stayed until closing time and used up all our money as it is useless outside of the country. We left Dan to get on the night train to Bucharest.

Eastern Europe is very different from everything we have seen thus far. There are no postcards for sale here, but there is a McDonalds.

Related posts: Turkey, 1997Greece, 1997Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella ItaliaItaly, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to FlorenceSpain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona,  Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona,  France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: ParisBelgium, 1997Holland, 1997England, 1997I first started travellingBy special requestHome is where you make itI first started writing

What’s your obsession?

According to the dictionary, obsessive-compulsive-disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which patients are driven to repeat the same act, such as washing their hands, over and over again, usually for many hours.

Being of Sri Lankan heritage, I have a little OCD.

I don’t wash my hands continually in an “out, damned spot” Macbeth- kind of way, but I do run lists in my head that must be completed before I leave the house. Dress, do my hair, pack my bag, make the bed, eat breakfast and brush my teeth.

I also do a walk-through of each room in the flat, making sure it is neat and tidy. Not clean. Most people mistakenly think the place is clean- but that is merely the illusion that tidiness creates.

I know my Sri Lankan mother also has this problem as it drives me nuts when I am waiting for her to come and visit and she can’t seem to leave the house early as she has to do a quick tidy up first.

There is also a running list of chores that I need to do in my head. Fortunately this one doesn’t run every day or I may never get out the door. This may also be part of the reason why I don’t want a bigger place to live.

After leaving home, I lived by myself for a number of years and the OCD was easy to manage. Everything was still where I left it that morning when I returned from work each night.

Living with a partner, on the other hand, can sometimes be a challenge. Probably not just for me.

The only way I can deal with someone else’s mess is to allocate corners or areas where everything of theirs gets dumped and then I don’t have to think about it. Not very nice of me I know, but perhaps I just have an understanding husband who also likes the benefits of having a tidy house.

Over the years, I have heard stories of Sri Lankan aunts who suffer from the same disorder to varying degrees. Is it a cultural thing? Or a genetic disorder? Or a female thing?

The theory is that OCD is learned behaviour and distorted beliefs that could either be genetic or the result of chemical, structural and functional abnormalities in the brain.

So, for now, the jury is still out. But I can still blame my mum right?

Replublished to Story2Share.

Turkey, 1997

When we arrived in Istanbul, Nat, Laurano, Sarah and I went to visit the famous the Blue Mosque. Inside, the carpet felt very soft on our bare feet and people were still praying so I felt disrespectful taking photos.

Next we went to the Grand Bazaar with its constant spruiking. We got lost easily, walked in circles and couldn’t find Laurano. So the rest of us went to Sulemanyie Mosque which had many mosaics with Sanskrit writing.

Then we crossed the Ataturk Bridge over the Golden Horn to the Galata Tower in modern Istanbul and climbed it for a view of the Bosporus Strait. I counted 13 mosques that I could see over the water in Istanbul old city.

After dinner, we went to the nearby Orient hostel to watch a belly dancing show- very entertaining in a bizarre sort of setting. After the show we all went to went to a Turkish bar which had males doing a traditional line dance and drinking circle. I thought it was a gay bar for a moment as Sarah and I were the only girls there.

The next day, Sarah, Nat and I went to Topkapi Sarayi. The arched Gates of Felicity at the entrance looked just like a western castle, except for the Turkish flag flying on top. There were some weird looking towers, which turned out to be part of the palace kitchens and the Golden Sultans look out terrace had a circumcision room. Scary stuff! We were shuffled like cattle through the 400 room harem on tour group.

Sarah and I went to Dolmabahce Sarayi the following day. This palace, surrounded by water, is the most recent palace of the sultans and was the most beautiful to me. I liked the presents from kings around the world- bear rugs from Russia and elephant tusk tables from India. I noticed that the birthing room in harem area was tiny, but the bathing houses were numerous and had glass peep holes in the rooves. Priorities I guess!

We got on the wrong ferry back from the palace and ended up in Asian Turkey. There were more street stalls and beggars instead of hustlers on this side and it felt a little scarier. It was dark by the time we found the ferry back.

That night, Sarah and I went out to Taksim- the main nightclub area- which was filled with university students. We were accompanied by Nat, Dan from Ohio and three more male American “body guards.”

We were lured into a bar with the promise of two free beers with entry, but every drink after that was charged at London prices. We went to Discotheque 1001, which turned out to be a prostitute bar and then caught a cab home a little disappointed with the whole exercise.

The next day, Sarah and I went to Yerebatan Sarayi- the underground water storage cistern. It was very humid down there with lots of fish swimming about around the boat.

When we got back to the hostel, we said our goodbyes to Dan who was leaving for Bulgaria that day and arranged to meet him in Sophia in a couple of days.

The following day was census day in Istanbul, so everyone had to stay at home and lots of shops were closed. Sarah and I made the mistake of venturing outside without our “body guards” to spend the last of our Lira on Turkish delight and we got about ten times more hassle than usual.

We’d had the best time in Istanbul and agreed it was our favourite place so far mostly due to the people we had met. After a few last drinks at the hostel, Sarah and I said our farewell’s and got on the night train to Sophia.

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What’s in a number?

I am going to my cousin’s 21st birthday this weekend and I must admit I am a little afraid.

If it’s anything like the year of 21st’s that I went to when I was 21 it will involve buying a hip flask or a vase as a present depending on your gender, dressing up in impractical fancy dress, drinking far too much and mixing drinks, dancing crazily, throwing up, drinking some more and waking up in either a car or a barn.

I feel like I am far too old to be contemplating such activities and am quite glad it’s actually not expected of me at my age. It has a time and place, but I prefer to enjoy my weekend DAYS now rather than spending them hung-over until it’s time to start drinking again.

So, it got me thinking about what makes me feel old?

When I delayed university for two years and then had to enter as a mature age student- that label made me feel old.

When I asked one of my younger friends if they liked “Things that make you go Hmmm” and they didn’t know who C & C Music Factory were- that made me feel old.

When I realised I got my belly button piercing BEFORE it was cool- this made me feel old, but also very cool so that was ok.

When I turned 25, I had a quarter-life crisis. So by the time I turned 30, I was over feeling old due to the age that I was.

When I think of all the technology advances I have seen in my lifetime- that is the best indicator of the path of time. In the past, the move from records to tapes seemed huge. But now, technology moves at such a fast rate I have seen the move from tapes to CD’s to MP3 players to iTunes.

When I went on my first trip to Europe by myself I had to use pay phones to keep in touch with my parents. Now there are mobile phones, email, Facebook and Skype.

Finally, when I got a mortgage, got married and had a child- this really made me feel old! So maybe feeling old is directly proportionate to the amount of responsibilities you have in your life?

But at the end of the day, age is just a number, not how we feel. And we are all still 21 on the inside right?

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Greece, 1997

At Patras harbour, all the backpackers followed each other in a line from the port to the train station to get to Athens.

When Sarah and I arrived in Athens, we headed to Syntagma Square to meet John who was the brother of a friend of mine from Australia. He lived in an apartment block on the top floor in a busy street where we would be staying while we were here. John knew a lot of people in the neighbourhood as he taught English in a nearby university.

On our first day we headed to the Acropolis of course. We climbed to the top of Mars Rock to catch the sun beautifully casting a shadow over the city. The Parthenon was under scaffolding and the Erechtheum had replica statues because the real ones were getting damaged by pollution. It was easy to see the layout of the Theatre of Dionysus and the Temple of Zeus from up here and it was a nice feeling to be on top of the city.

Heading back down, we went through the ruins of the Agora- the ancient commercial centre-to the markets of Athens old town in Plaka. We saw the bizarrely small Panaghia Kapnikarea church surrounded by the office blocks of modern Athens.

We visited the National Gardens behind the Parliament Houses which had tall palm trees, lots of winding paths and cats and dogs everywhere.

When John came home we went to meet one of his students Dimitri in a crowded pub with good music and a lively atmosphere. We all drank lots of ouzo and then headed to a house music nightclub.

The following day, we went to the original modern Olympic stadium (first used in 1896) and ate chicken souvlaki for lunch in Plaka.

That night, I saw on MTV that Michael Hutchence died at age 37 in a hotel in Rose Bay- police were still investigating the cause of death.

John drove us to Likavitos summit- the highest mountain in Athens that rises up out of the middle of the concrete buildings. We got a great view of the stadium, the Acropolis and the rest of the city by night. We went on a long drive to the beach lined with bars and coffee shops. It must be packed here in summer and totally different place.

The following morning it was raining, so Sarah and I decided it was time to move on. We took the overnight train to Alexandroupoli on the Turkish border. From there, we got the train to Istanbul in a carriage with Nat from Atlanta and Laurano from Argentina.

Related posts: Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella Italia, Italy, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to Florence, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond BarcelonaSpain, 1997, Part 1: BarcelonaFrance, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing