Little room in fitztoy…

Just one week ago we woke up for the last time in Habitat hostel in St. Kilda. By all means, a decent hostel. For a month, tiresome. We packed up all our goods and left behind this kind of living…

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We got to our new house in Fitzroy, just off busy Brunswick Street, as the previous inhabitants were leaving in their camper van. We saw our room for the second time, now empty and it was bigger and lovelier than we remembered. Floor to ceiling empty wardrobes, a modest window, shiny wooden floors and a big tall ceiling. And a few gaping cracks in the wall. It’s old, I suppose that’s charming.

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After an obligatory trip to IKEA, 2 tram rides away, we returned with a duvet, sheets, a bonsai tree and tea lights. I don’t think I’ve ever returned from IKEA without candles and plants. It took 30 minutes to make the bed and unpack everything we own in Melbourne (2 backpacks and a few reusable supermarket bags worth). I love our cracked walls and this cosy room.

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I am so pleased to have a room and a space that is just ours. I am now obsessing over design blogs and little home improvement ideas, I would love to paint these filthy walls and sort out these cracks! And I look forward to living somewhere a little more permanent with the freedom to do those things. Right now we don’t know how long we’ll be here for, so we’re just enjoying that it’s ours. And it’s no bargain, but the location alone is worth it. And the general quality of living in this city means that I am content most days. I also have a house to scrub and hoover and realise how much like my mother I really am.

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Stuff to remember…

I have been neglecting my blog, because living in a hostel makes everything tiresome. Not staying, but living in a hostel while you work Monday to Friday, sharing a room, bathroom, kitchen and breathing space with so many people is exhausting. Cooking is a pain and not a pleasure, laundry is a tedious 75 minute affair, standing by the dryer opening and closing the door (I still love cleaning the lint filter), and most days leave me thinking ‘not much longer’ until we have somewhere real. Not our own flat, just a modest room in a house with 2 or 3 people, instead of 70.

I feel bad for neglecting this space because the space is for me and my memories. And when I’m 50 I’d like to remember my first few weeks at work in Armadale, staying in St. Kilda, our first payday, and then finding somewhere to live.

I have pictures to share, from here and there, of the little adventures we’ve had. The most important thing I’d like to remember is that I feel very happy.

Here’s a little picture of my my miserable processed breakfast each morning, peanut butter and jam toasted sandwiches that leave me slumped, exhausted at 11am.

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A picture from a Sandringham commute when we were still staying with Alice.

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Some very good tsukemen ramen from Mensousai Mugen in the CBD, this was our celebratory payday dinner. It was utterly delicious. The noodles and seaweed come separately from the thick broth and you add them in as you go. When you’re done, the waitress brings you a little pot of tasty dashi stock to add to the thick broth, giving you a soup to finish with. I do like theatre with my dinner.

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We were accidentally brought some chips, which is a terrible dilemma, whether to say something or wolf them down. We both ate one, sneakily, and let the waitress take them away when she noticed. That’s perfect, I’d love a spoonful of everything on the menu, that’s my ideal dinner.

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On Sunday just gone we sat in a little St. Kilda cafe, and I figured out how to do a Japanese number puzzle other than sudoku. Had this tasty little soy cappuccino.

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We spent the weekend shopping, since I was in desperate need of a coat that wasn’t a North Face knock off from Cusco. It’s incredible how much better you feel with a new coat, a new dress. I feel like a real person again.
I bought dumplings from Chinatown and on the tram home realised the hostel has no freezer. So I cooked them that night, but half defrosted they all clung together and pork and prawn kind of fell out everywhere. Then I sat opposite all my most hated hostel people and actively disliked them as I ate.

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That’s me trying to charm a possum.

We watched Godzilla in the IMAX at the Melbourne Museum. It’s the 3rd biggest IMAX in the world, it was pretty big. And the film wasn’t great. But it was great for the IMAX. I loved every second. I have always been a fan of the end of the world film. And Bryan Cranston caked in make up on the big screen. Although his screen time found me nervous, in case Breaking Bad was mentioned, even in that environment. I think that means I just have to finish it. As soon as we get a real place to live.

One more thing to remember… on the tram home from our flat viewings tonight we listened to 3 teenagers swearing for 20 minutes. It was almost like Jonah from Tonga, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Also, I squeezed a lime into my drink tonight and hit a man at the next table in the eye. Priceless.

part 2 of Colonia, Uruguay

This morning I woke up in incredible heat, scratching myself all over because I was attacked overnight by mosquitoes. I dreamt about getting out of bed and fixing them about three times before I did. But when I did, it was such relief. We have a clicker, a little electronic zapper to treat mosquito bites and it’s brilliant. I just had to climb down from the bunk, find the clicker in Oliver’s bag and sleepily stumble to the bathroom so as not to disturb everyone else with the CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.

I was elated to discover oranges and kiwis at breakfast! The first breakfast in Uruguay that consists of more than bread, butter and dulce de leche. That delicious caramel is perfect after dinner, or for lunch, or as a snack. Not breakfast. Not sugar and more sugar and terrible coffee that can only be fixed with sugar.

Here is a further million pictures because it’s just so nice to have instant access to them now.

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quick pictures of Montevideo, Uruguay

We’ve just spent a hectic 2 days getting to Montevideo. There is a lot of update on and many pictures, so here are a couple just from our hostel right now. It’s very picturesque and we splashed out on a private room, that’s £15 a night each! Very extravagent.

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three weeks in Brazil

We’ve been away for just over 3 weeks and we’ve seen so much, but it has just flown by. Brazil is huge and people come to visit only Brazil for months on end. At home our trip seemed exotic and unusual. As soon as you arrive in a hostel you realise everybody had the same idea as you and they have either come from your next destination or are going there next too. We’ve all taken an entire country and reduced it to Rio Ilha Grande ParatySao PauloIguazu Falls. It’s enough to make anybody feel like a total cliché.

Nobody we’ve met since Salvador seems too bothered to go there though. An idea we’ve encouraged. No offence Salvador, you aren’t bad, you just aren’t Rio. Try not being full of armed police. Just a thought.

And clichés we may be, but much better a cliché reducing Brazil to a list of cities than a cliché working a job they hate for 2 years and constantly whining about it. Ugh.

It’s lovely to meet all the other clichés too. From England and Scotland, Germany, Australia, Denmark and the US, among others. You find yourself in little troupes of nice people who you barely know, except that they’re from Sheffield and they don’t know what to do with themselves so they’re in South America for 6 weeks, as well as a list of places they’ve visited and will visit. And in our troupes we’ve visited Christ the Redeemer, Ipanema beach, Lopes Mendes beach on Ilha Grande (supposedly one of the best in the world, yeah, it was pretty good) and a huge selection of waterfalls and lagoons in Paraty.

There are also people you can’t stand. But that’s fairly everyday for Oliver and I. Mostly pairs of obnoxious Brits (I know, pot and kettle). But you’re polite, or you avoid them, or you change hostel as we did in Ilha Grande for a bunch of boring reasons. Obnoxious Brit couple, leaking shower, everywhere smells of wee.

I already feel like a hostel connoisseur, as does anybody that stays in a few. I’m after aircon, plentiful toilets and showers, somewhere other than a bed to sit and do nothing, halfway decent internet, a kitchen, a washing machine, a pleasant owner and a smashing free breakfast. A hostel pet cat, a reading light and good wifi is like hostel paradise. All for under R$38 a night please (about a tenner).

Soon Brazil will turn into Uruguay, a place with even less recommendations than Salvador, and then Buenos Aires, which I am so very excited for. But from Brazil I’ll miss cups of icy acai, lethal caipirinhas and warm and chewy pao de queijo. Brazilians put sugar in everything it seems, so I’m sure to experience a crash when I leave. Sugar in fruit juice, sugar in bread, sugar made into alcohol.

Before we leave though we’ll head to Sao Paulo, not especially popular (except for the 19 million people who live there) and Iguazu Falls, recommend and adored by everybody I meet. That people dismiss Sao Paulo encourages me and I can’t wait to see the busy streets filled with Oscar Niemeyer designs, visit Liberdade for sushi half the price of Rio’s and hang out with two of those previously mentioned troupe members. This little quote makes it sound especially appealing, probably because I usually live in Manchester: “The city, which is also colloquially known as “Sampa” or “Cidade da Garoa” (city of drizzle), is also known for its unreliable weather, the size of its helicopter fleet, its architecture, gastronomy, severe traffic congestion and multitude of skyscrapers”.

Looking forward to the city of drizzle.