It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Man From Snowy River

Yeah, I can do this, no worries.  Actually, I couldn't.  Not ever.

Tonight, as I was riding Jeany home through the forest with my friends in the gathering dusk, I thought, as I often do, how very lucky I am to have these great experiences.  I'm riding far more often here in Germany than I ever did anywhere else.  I ride a few different horses with different characters, and whilst I'd never say I was a good rider, I'm certainly not a bad one.  I've got quiet hands and heels and try to build a relationship with the horse I'm riding (unless it's Silver, and I've pretty much given up there).

As we canter along, and our "horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride", I thought again of the fantastic Australian poem "The Man From Snowy River" by AB (Banjo) Patterson.  It's one of my all time favourite poems, and for those of you who don't know it, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Oh, and if anyone needs any Aussie bush slang translations, please just ask.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up -
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony - three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long a tiring gallop - lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."

So he went - they found the horses by the big mimosa clump -
They raced away towards the mountain's brow, 
And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump, 
No use to try for fancy riding now. 
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right. 
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills, 
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight, 
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."

So Clancy rode to wheel them - he was racing on the wing 
Where the best and boldest riders take their place, 
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring 
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face. 
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash, 
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view, 
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash, 
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black 
Resounded to the thunder of their tread, 
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back 
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead. 
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way, 
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide; 
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day, 
No man can hold them down the other side."

When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull, 
It well might make the boldest hold their breath, 
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full 
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death. 
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head, 
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer, 
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed, 
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet, 
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride, 
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat - 
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride. 
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground, 
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went; 
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound, 
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill, 
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute, 
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit. 
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met 
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals 
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet, 
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam. 
He followed like a bloodhound on their track, 
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home, 
And alone and unassisted brought them back. 
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot, 
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur; 
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot, 
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise 
Their torn and rugged battlements on high, 
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze 
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky, 
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway 
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide, 
The man from Snowy River is a household word today, 
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

There was a great movie made of this amazing poem and you can find the details here.  Anyone who loves horses should really try to see it somewhere, it's fantastic.  And if this has inspired you to try riding in the Snowy Mountains "where the pine-clad ridges raise their torn and rugged battlements on high",  on horses that are "hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die" have a look here.  I rode with these guys about 7 years ago and it was seriously great (and the accommodation and food were outstanding).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rado Weather - Do Something!

It's winter in Rado and that means it's foggy and grey in Rado.  It's foggy and grey all day in Rado.  It's foggy and grey every day in Rado.  Yes, it's foggy and grey ALL THE TIME!

Now, I'm an Australian and Australians are pretty much obsessed by weather.  I'm probably worse than most, because I'm from the driest state in the driest country on the planet - good old South Australia.  You'd rarely have a conversation with someone where the subject of weather doesn't come up in some way.

There's never enough rain, or there's too much and there's floods and cereal crop damage.  In Australia, when there's too much winter rain, you get too much summer grass which dries off and then you get bush fires, and with bush fires there are absolutely no winners.

Or you get cyclones up North and they wipe out all the banana and pineapple crops so that's your tropical fruit exports gone.  Or there's hail and that's your stone fruit (peaches, apricots, cherries) exports gone.

So, as you can see, Australia is a wee bit weather obsessed.  Weather, when you're a big island, is pretty crucial, and no matter how lovely it is where you happen to be, it means that someone else is having it hard.

Now I'm living here in grey, foggy Rado and it's been like this for weeks.  We've had no rain, minimal sun, no wind, no storms and nothing except this creeping greyness AND I'M OVER IT!  We need a big storm to blow this all away, and then I'd be happy to be knee deep in snow for the winter.  Please, give me some weather!

Let it blow, let it snow, let it blow ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spa Review : Der Oschberghof

Last Thursday I had appointment at Der Oschberghof in Donaueschingen to receive my birthday massage (yes, I know, my birthday's in January but I was a wee bit late getting myself organised).  The glorious Elke1 had very kindly given me a massage voucher for the spa at this gorgeous hotel, about 45 minutes from home.

I checked in with a friendly Spa receptionist, and as I was early, I was seated in a small relaxation area with a lovely cup of green tea.  I pulled out my book and chilled for a little while before I was escorted downstairs to the treatment rooms where I met Senta, my masseuse.

Senta and I were in a really lovely room, well on par with anything I've experienced anywhere in the world.  It was beautifully decorated and had lovely soft "tinkling" typical spa music playing quietly in the background.

Senta asked me to undress and I asked if there was a robe, or disposable knickers, or anything at all.  She said she had some disposable knickers if I wanted them, but she was happy with me naked if I was happy with me naked.  Now, I know this is a bit odd, and I felt slightly weird, but Germans seem to be more used to being naked than other people I've met.  If you go to a sauna here, everyone is naked and you're not allowed to wear your bikini - and that's why I don't go to German saunas!

Anyway, I undressed and lay down on the treatment bed and covered myself with a towel and Senta offered me a selection of oils and lotions to see which I'd prefer to be massaged with.  They all smelt lovely, I chose a fresh green flowery smell, and Senta started the massage.  I don't know about you, but I like a firm massage.  I'm not one for feathery soft strokes.  I want to be able to walk out of a massage and feel like something has actually happened.  About 5 minutes into a quite pleasant, though not mind blowing, massage Senta asked if it was okay and I said she could go much harder if she wanted to.

"No problem" she said, and turned around to the CD player and changed it from tinkly massage music to old R&B and jazzed up spirituals, and then she got stuck in to me.  It was one of the best massages I've ever had, as good as anything I had in Thailand from my lovely Khun Al.  My long term diary readers will remember Khun Al, the old lady at the massage centre at the end of our soi, who used to take great pleasure in battering the stuffing out of me; punching, whacking and chopping with a huge smile on her face.  Well, this was almost as good as that.

After my hour was up, I really felt fantastic and Senta went off to make me a cup of tea whilst I dressed. I was then shown into a huge relaxation lounge with chaises and fabbo Fat Boy bean bags - lovely.  I know tipping isn't as expected here, but before Senta left me I gave her a healthy tip as it was certainly deserved.

So, if you want a special treat, get yourself along to the spa at Der Oschberghof and make sure you ask for Senta!!

Der Oschberghof
Golfplatz 1
78166 Donaueschingen
Ph:- +49 (0) 771 840

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Davos, Switzerland

Apologies for the delay on my promised Davos post, but I've been laid low for a while with a nasty bug, and am only now feeling like getting back on the blog.

Anyway, we had a fantastic time in Davos, the home of the World Economic Forum, the weekend before last.  It's under 3 hours driving from our home in Germany, and whilst we drove there in the dark, we drove home during the day and it was a really pretty and fairly straight-forward drive.  Davos is nestled in the next valley along from the Royal Family hangout, Klosters, in the Swiss Alps and it's just lovely.  Easy to get around (as long as you understand the one way street system which isn't terribly well marked) and loads and loads of hiking, jogging and horse riding trails everywhere.  I'm sure it really kicks into gear in a month or so for ski season.

We had pre-booked dog-friendly accommodation at the Sheraton Waldhuus so that we could bring Archie with us.  We had never travelled with him for an overnight stay and we wanted to give it a try.  He's been crate trained from when he was a pup, so we put the crate in the boot, put his travel harness on, clipped him into the seatbelt attachment on the back seat and set off.  He was great on the drive (he's always been very laid back on car trips) and the hotel had put us in a large ground floor room with direct access to the forest outside our door - perfect for dogs!

I could go on and on about the Sheraton Waldhuus, but I've already done that on a TripAdvisor review of the Sheraton which you can find here, and you can find the official website of the hotel here.

We'd made a reservation for dinner on our first night at Hanggi's which had been really well reviewed on TripAdvisor.  It was a 10 minute walk down the side of the golf course from the hotel, easy peasy.  Had a lovely meal and we were looked after by friendly staff.  Again, I've done a TripAdvisor review of the restaurant here, and you can find the official website of the restaurant here.

We love going out for breakfast on the weekends, and it's not really something that we can do here in Rado, so when we get the chance to do it in a new place, well, we just jump at it!  We'd found out about Kaffeeklatsch on TripAdvisor (you can see the TripAdvisor is a resource that we really love and use pretty much before we go anywhere new - it's never let us down yet) and headed along for a late breakfast on the first morning.

Kaffeeklatsch is gorgeous, all shabby chic with different old chairs and mismatched plates.  They did outstanding coffee with real fresh milk (a treat for us, as most coffee in Rado is made with that ghastly long life milk you can buy unrefrigerated off the shelf), freshly squeezed juices and lots of different cooked breakfasts.  We had bacon and eggs, and bacon and rosti - both scrumptious.  There are also lovely displays of cakes and the whole place is looked after by friendly staff.  It was so good that we went back again the next day.

Surprise!  I've submitted a review on TripAdvisor that you can see here, but they don't seem to have a webpage.  Oh, and they're dog friendly.  Archie was happy to sit under the table, smiling and wagging at everyone as they came through the door.

So, to cut a long weekend short, Davos is great.  We're so lucky to live close enough to be able to drive to these amazing places in countries that are on our doorstep!  I'll pop some photos of our weekend on the end here so you see what we got up to.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Australian FAQs

These actual questions about Australia were posted on the same blog I found the map of Australia yesterday.  Sorry they're all over to one side, not sure quite how to get them back!

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? ( UK ).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? ( USA )
A:Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q:I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? ( Sweden )
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? ( UK )
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q:Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? ( USA )
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not
... Oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q:Which direction is North in Australia? (USA )
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? ( UK )
A:Why? Just use your fingers like we do...

Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? ( USA )
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is
Oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? ( UK )
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q:Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? ( Germany )
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. ( USA )
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from.
All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q:I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. ( USA )
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them.
You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q:I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? ( USA )
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q:Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? ( France )
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? ( USA )
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first

Monday, November 7, 2011

Map of Australia

Hubby, dog and I spent this past weekend in gorgeous Davos, Switzerland, and I'm working on some blogs about that, but here's a map of Australia I just saw on an expat forum and I thought you might get a giggle out of it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We Love to Recycle!

I know I did a post on the many ways that Germany recycles last month, but my friend AmiExpat has done a really detailed and interesting post in her blog and I've copied it below if you can't click over.  Her blog post was linked in this article by Mashable on global recycling which is really worth a read.  For example, did you know that Germany recycles around 64% of its rubbish, the UK 17%, and Greece only 10%?  And if you Aussies are wondering how you compare, check out this detailed report.

Germans take recycling very seriously.  I’ve heard of fights erupting among neighbors in apartment houses over improper sorting.  To help you with figuring out what goes where, I’ve compiled this little guide.
First, there can be up to four containers at your residence or in public places.  There’s the paper and cardboard container, that is denoted by either green or blue, depending on where you live.  Then there is the plastic and compound materials container, denoted by yellow.  There is the brown biological waste container, and the gray household waste container.
In addition to these containers, you will find containers in your neighborhood for glass, shoe, and clothing collection.  At the entrances of home improvement, electronics, and some grocery stores, you will find used battery collection boxes.  You may need to store hazardous materials for some time until your city or town announces that it will be collecting these items.  And finally, there are scheduled pickups for large items, like old sofas and the like.  In large cities, you will generally be notified of the dates for pickups, but in smaller towns you will likely need to call and schedule a pickup yourself (in our town, we get one free pickup a year, more than one and we need to pay for them to come by).
What’s acceptable can vary slightly from place to place, as can the color of the bins.  I looked over the instructions for several cities, and listed items that were accepted by all.  Some cities accept things that other cities don’t, so to find out for sure what you can and can’t recycle, and what bin it goes in if what I have here doesn’t seem to match up with your bins, check the official website of the city or district you live in.
What goes in the Grüne/Blaue Tonne (green or blue can) for paper and cardboard recycling?
  • Paper and cardboard packaging marked with or without a Grüne Punkt (Green Dot), for example, cartons for salt, laundry detergent)
  • uncoated frozen food packaging
  • newspapers, magazines, junk-mail
  • notebooks, writing pads, writing paper, envelopes, computer paper
  • packing paper, corrugated cardboard
  • books without covers, catalogs
What does not go in the Grüne/Blaue Tonne (green or blue can) for paper and cardboard recycling?
  • soiled paper
  • drink cartons, for example, Tetra-Paks
  • pizza boxes with aluminum coating
  • coffee bags (paper bonded with aluminum or plastic
  • wallpaper
  • carbon paper, photo paper
  • used paper towels, Kleenex, or napkins
  • waxed, sandwich or parchment paper
  • any other coated or bonded paper
What goes in the Gelbe Tonne (yellow can) for plastic and compound materials recycling?
  • plastic food containers, like for yogurt or margarine
  • plastic bottles, for example, body wash, shampoo, sunscreen, laundry detergent, juice bottles
  • plastic wrap, plastic bags (like from inside the cereal box, or shopping bags)
  • vacuum-pack bags, for example, coffee bags
  • Styrofoam packaging, also for meats, fruits and vegetables
  • nets that citrus and potatoes come in
  • aluminum foil, lids, trays
  • paper or plastic plates, plastic utensils
  • fast food mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup packets
  • tin drink and food cans
  • aerosol cans (hairspray, deodorant, etc.)
  • tubes for toothpaste, stain remover, tomato paste, etc.
  • plastic bottle screw-tops
  • milk and juice cartons
  • pharmaceutical blister-packs
What doesn’t go in the Gelbe Tonne (yellow can) for plastic and compound materials recycling?
  • vegetable and fruit cartons
  • glass
  • paper and cardboard
  • video and audio cassettes
  • diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons
  • plastic, metal or Styrofoam items that aren’t packaging, like toys, bowls, lids, laundry baskets, window boxes, plant pots, etc.
  • packaging that contained hazardous material, like spray paint cans
  • electronic devices
What goes in the BIO Tonne (brown can) for biological waste?
  • garden clippings, weeds, grass cuttings
  • foliage and plants, including houseplants
  • feathers and hair from pets
  • paper towels
  • fruit and vegetable peels and leftovers, including citrus fruits
  • coffee grounds and filters
  • tea and tea bags
  • egg shells
  • flowers
  • bread and cheese
  • spoiled food
  • nut shells
  • organic pet litter, like hay, straw, wood shavings
  • untreated wood
  • Christmas trees (no tinsel)
What does not go in the BIO Tonne (brown can) for biological waste?
  • ashes
  • mineral-based pet litter
  • meat and sausage leftovers, cooked and prepared food, flour and milk products (in some places, these can go in)
  • treated wood
  • bones
  • Kleenex, sanitary pads, diapers, tampons
  • other treated items, vacuum cleaner bags, street sweepings
What goes in the Altglastonne (old glass containers)?
  • non-returnable glass jars and bottles
  • marmalade, jam, jelly, preserve jars
  • packaging made from glass
  • blue glass (goes in the green glass container)
What does not go in the Altglastonne (old glass containers)?
  • lightbulbs
  • ceramic and porcelain
  • mirror, window and plate glass
  • crystal
  • ceramic stove tops
  • auto windshields
  • fireproof glass

Wednesday, November 2, 2011