Back to Melody's travels

..and so the circle is complete......

Hello hello,
guten tag, previat, dobry den,
How is life continuing in your part of earth?

The computer is acting frivolous so I don't know if this will actually reach you/make sense, but I'll try...........

Thanks for the emails they have been so lovely, it's such a thrill to open my account and see a familiar name waiting with homely and exciting messages. I said I'd write more in detail, so here I am with another travel log, it's been a while; I've a few more stories to tell if you're interested to know what the bizarre world has been throwing at me in the last month or so.

Some of this may be repetitive, sorry, I think the last time I wrote I was in Kyiv, or Odessa in Ukraine.

Sadly I have since left that beautiful, enigmatic land, amidst much shedding of tears and many moving partings with the gentle, whimsical natives. It was a very memorable farewell - especially from Odessa, we had a great traditional Ukrainian night out with vodka and friends and Russian discotechs. My two months there had failed to prepare me for the brutal reality of just how much vodka the average Ukrainian really can consume, and they were intent on proving their strength and tolerance, and testing mine, which I happily admit is non existent. Thus it was a night of madness, people ran amok, I threw money away like a rampant millionaire, attempted to out drink the Russians, had a massive rumbling 'discussion' with an American peace core worker who agreed with the current war, disappeared for an hour and worried everyone before i was found backstage interviewing several (hot) breakdancers, then we hitched home (very common thing to do in the cities there - you pay the driver a small fare) in a mafiaish Mercedes Benz and the driver decided to boy race our friend Denise, weaving and spinning all through the wide streets, whilst I hung out the window yelling obscenities in typical chummy New Zealand talk which strangely freaked out the Ukrainians.

A last few days in Kyiv saying goodbye to Joy the British pseudo-missionary, and the weird ex-pat community who'd accommodated me. On my last night I was unfortunate enough to see the Liverpool football team, under the lights of Republican Stadion as they played Kyiv Dynamo. There was a fantastic big raucous crowd of Ukrainians yelling and jumping, munching madly on sunflower seeds and sausages, spilling beer everywhere - and, a small contingent of Liverpool supporters, standing sombre and solemn, on their feet the whole time (used to terraces i believe.) It was wonderful watching the crowd and I was incredulous that I was actually enjoying a football game. Then the sorry time came and away a train started to take me, from that incredible nation which taught and transformed me so.

As a final stab I was detained at the border, a desperate last ditch attempt to extract money. The arrogant border 'officials' came up with some feeble, avant garde story about how i had extended my visa at the wrong place. I was a little worried because i had only a couple of hours to leave before my visa well and truly ran out at midnight, and then I would be at their complete mercy. So I ranted and raved and yelled and remained adamant that I had no money to give them and they eventually gave up, and quietly, sadly, let me go.

Next Slovakia was tossed at me, almost unbearably Western and overwhelming with it's electrical lighting, supermarkets and fast trams. It was a complete shock having everything run smoothly, to not be ostracised for being vegetarian, to more than occasionally be able to communicate with a local. I spent some weeks hitching about in this new land which proved to be a quaint, picturesque little place, meeting locals, wandering around prehistoric ruins, gazing at steeples, sampling local liqueurs, arguing the meaning of existence, on it went. One memorable day I spent hitching with a Buddhist monk, it was enlightening, especially when we were picked up by a couple of 80's style rockers, a man in leathers and a woman with bleached blond hair, who just turned around and gawked at us, shaking their faded heads in disbelief. The monk grinned at them intensely, staring into their eyes, and i gave them a foreign glare, just for fun. They let us out much earlier than we'd hoped. A week in Nitra staying with an American english teacher, a former peace core worker who'd just spent 2 years in Kyrgystan, living among Tartars, Kurds, Kyrgys and Uzbeks. A brief investigation into the Roma culture there, the majorly discriminated minority (?) of Slovakia, exciting things happening in Nitra with a Roma faculty in the university and many NGO projects. Then a mad week in Bratislava, funds were running so low I was forced to take drastic measures and convinced some students to sneak me into their dormitory for free accommodation. I had no idea what chaos would ensue, an entire week of drinking drinking deranged drinking, the true slovak student way. I was in a dorm of Physicists and Mathematicians to add a psychotic twist - and very exceptionally nice and interesting people - really one in a million types, with knowledge of many things esoteric, such as Brazilian jazz and advanced tea brewery. Amazing discussions and learning and friends for life.

I then made the mistake of heading to Vienna, and experienced the first mild culture shock of my life. I was horrified at the waste, excess and over indulgent luxury of everything and all around me. I wanted to go back east, to reality, for it seemed this was not - this was a warped and plasticised fake land of tourism and leisure; devoid of real people and true living.
Everyone was hidden, hostile, so bored and broken by life, yet as a nation they'd suffered so little; it seemed they were disillusioned by the apparent nothingness of it all. The rabid city had one forte - the myriad art galleries and museums, which I explored for a day, Hundertwasser house and all his images of and ramblings about New Zealand, and some amazing works by my favourite artist Egon Schiele, then had enough and ran away south to Slovenija.

I had a long but interesting hitch hike there. One stimulating ride with an orchestra conductor from Vienna, he was writing a book about the relationship between Art, Science and Religion, so we debated this for a while. Then he divulged he was also a member of the notorious Austria Freedom Party (the really right wing, almost neo-nazis with a bad reputation everywhere) and we argued about this a long time, he tried to tell me all the negativity about Hilder and the party is is simply destructive rumours spread by the socialist opposition to try and win the next election. "We have no interest in what has happened in history, 50, 60 years ago, for example, with Hitler," was one of his most exciting and ambiguous quotes.

Then to Ljublijana, with a big wise Slovenian who had travelled around Africa and used to hitch himself. He took me home to meet his family and to have some tea, and they were unbelievably nice, jolly slavs, who delightfully invited me to stay. So I lived there with these most traditional and beautiful natives, a jolly mother, wise father, two sons who drank a lot of pivo, and a boisterous dog. I'd longed to see this fabled city, and my expectations were exceeded - pretty, captivating, with a sense of togetherness most big cities lack. The natives even took me south out into the countryside to see the uncanny, abundant nature, so ill fitting for central europe. On my last day - and it was the beginning of November - thick puffy flakes descended from the sky and Alack it is snowing and soon the whole world is enveloped. I'd doubted Ljublijana could look any prettier but the image of it swirling and glittering in a snow storm is one that will always remain with me.

Back through Austria - eeeek- and then a ride with a trendy German reggae\ska band who miraculously took me 500kms all the way to Munich.

Once more in homely familiar Munich, I sprang a grand surprise on my friends here and turned up unexpectedly at their opening exhibition night of the Burning man festival. It was all madness and surpise and excitement, a great night. So now I'm staying here a while, trying to learn German (my first sentence; Mein vater war ein zegan hert) and shall soon be forced back to Britian to seek work and shelter from this irresponsibly cold european winter.

Whoa. And that's it, the end of my current adventures,that's the end of my excitement and rush of the new, the finish of my attempted delving into the eastern european physce. I hope you enjoyed my latest stories, I really look forward to prehaps getting replies, anyway I'll update you all again, when life becomes once more exciting.

Lots of love,
Melody