Friday, February 03, 2006

Recap of the journey to Spain.

It was a long trip! On Tuesday morning Tim drove me to the airport which was no mean feat considering it was Just after 5 am and it was his day off! (Thanks so much, Tim!) The flight to Sydney was quite straight forward except interestingly, they were not prepared for a vegan being on-board even though I had made certain that it was perfectly clear. Banana and a juice for breakfast. I was quite interested to find out what they would do considering having heard about the catering section at the airport. The banana was nice.

In Sydney I was on the phone and managed to walk out the wrong exit for the transfer to the international Terminal. I had to return to the place I was a mere 5 metres away via a 300 metre route, through a security inspection that considered my camera tripod as a potential weapon which seemed odd since I had just come off a flight.

Sydney Airport is huge - the check-in line long and slow and time was ticking by alarmingly fast. To distract myself I listened to some of "The Goon Show" and found that listening to absurd humour in the middle of a long queue led to the risk of ostracism due to laughing out loud before realising that no one else could enjoy the joke. I am not sure how many times it happened before I controlled my mirth...

Japan Airlines (JAL) are exceptional. They plastered my seat headrest with a "V.G.M.L" sticker that insured no troubles about explaining the vegan thing. The meals were very good.

As soon as I arrived in Japan I located a locker to store excess baggage and took the JR Express train into Shinjuku via Tokyo. It was over an hour journey and misty rain was falling over the city, putting a dampner on the ¡dea of setting up the tripod and shooting the city. [1] Barry (NZ vegan in Japan) met me and we went to E-Life for a vegan supper that was really good and exceptionally presented. Barry then toured me around some of Shinjuku´s night sights. A lot of neon and cigarette smoke, even indoors. If you start to forget how wonderful it is that smoking is limited mostly to outdoor places in South Australia; visit a city that doesn´t have restrictions. There are designated smoking zones with cigarette butt disposal units big enough to fit 40 of ours and there were multiple ones in the area. It was so ugly that I could not even take a picture.

Being vegan is Japan is challenge according to Barry; everything seems to have pork fat or bonito (fish) extract in it and we wandered through a few food outlets inspecting ingredient listings. Seems a perfectly normal thing to do - as a vegan - but I have to admit that writing it down; it does seem a strange thing to be doing in a foreign country. :D

I camped on Barry´s office floor overnight after his generous offer, and made my way back to the airport on a bus and two trains. After knackering myself twice going through the station barriers - that snap shut when you retrieve an incorrectly inserted ticket - I had to try to describe to the Japanese gentleman where I was trying to get. A few specific words and gesticulations later he was very helpful. Would be handy to have a better grasp of Japanese however as I have no idea of what he was saying.

It was literally freezing when I arrived in Amsterdam, but the airport was warm, very modern and so big that they provided maps with journey duration estimates along the walkways. I usually don´t have patience with travelators but was very very pleased about them in this instance. I was frisked by security which was the funniest thing ever! I was terribly amused my the experience as it took a full minute or more to accomplish. It was about that time that I realised that I was starting to feel tired.

Finally my phone came into reception in Spain! Juan was waiting patiently and it was a surprise to meet him for the first time but *not* the first time, since we had spent so much time in conversation. Spain is not the arctic experience that I was expecting.

Yesterday we went food shopping and Juan took me to lunch at Eco Centro. Really really good food. I was also introduced to the idea that you kiss females on either cheek in greeting which was a very clumsy and awkwardly hilarious lesson; taught by one of Juan´s unsuspecting friends! I understand now... :)

I started feeling seriously tired by 5pm here and had a 20 minute nap when we got home.... that went for a great many hours - waking finally at what would have been 7am in Adelaide... only to get up and make dinner for us. (Stir fried mock-duck with udon noodles). The time difference does not seem to matter now - I was dead tired after dinner also so have adjusted happily.

We might be seeing "Brokeback Mountain tonight and touring the city soon, so I will upload a lot more pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hola desde España!

So....I am in Spain! With a big tired grin, I am here after a very long journey and four flights.

I will write more tomorrow - just wanted to say that I am happy and safe. Juan is being the perfect host and tomorrow we are going food shopping... :)