Berlin and junk

The old Berlin Wall and a pair of Reebok kicks.

I’M sitting in a kitchen in an apartment Berlin with nothing to write about. Well there’s a bunch to write about but I’m short on time – my girlfriend and another mate will be back with rations for dinner and some beers in the next 10 minutes so I gotta be quick. We’ve been here for a few days now and haven’t done a lot. We’ve had plenty of sleep because technically our bed is in an attic of sorts. You can’t stand up in the room and I’m hesitant to even call our mattress a single. But its super dark so you can’t tell what time it is, which results in wake-up times of about 11am on average (apologies if you’re reading this and are currently employed). We visited the East Side Gallery (a stretch of remains of the Berlin Wall that have been painted over), the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, a museum-y kinda place regarding the Nazis and their dirty deeds (which is appropriately situated on the former site of the Reich Security Main Office of the SS – the organisational centre of most of the Nazi regime’s heinous crimes and terror), and the Reichstag, among other touristy places. Other than that I’ve just been taming mega coffees to beat the cold, drinking longnecks here and there, and eating a bunch of sushi, which I’ve been lusting after for the past few months (Portugal, Spain, Morocco, South America etc. are lacking in the Japanese goodness). Continue reading

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Eating well, sleeping well

THE Netherlands. I knew nothing about the place before I got here last week. To be honest – and this is a little embarrassing – I wasn’t sure whether The Netherlands and Holland were separate or the same country. Why the different names? And then why is their language called Dutch? Shouldn’t they all be speaking Netherlandish? Or Hollandaise, like the delectable sauce? Admittedly, the only thing I knew about the country was that it contained Amsterdam – a place I’d heard loads about (hasn’t everyone?) but didn’t know which of this constituted fact and which was exaggerated drivel. Prossies, cafes where you can legally buy and consume potent weed and mushrooms, live sex shows.  I’d heard from some friends the city was a must-see, an elegant and chic fantasy-land where anything goes, while other mates told me it wasn’t worth the exorbitant prices and masses of tourists, and if I went, not to spend more than two days there. Well I went, and I’m still here (this being my fourth and penultimate day) and I can see both sides of the argument. I thought I’d break down my stay for you, share some of my experiences to broaden your knowledge about the oft-discussed metropolis. Continue reading

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Changes

Current location: Porto. Photo: Mildred.

THE winds of change are upon us friends. Save for the south of Chile and Argentina in March, the weather I’m experiencing now in Portugal is the coldest I’ve faced in my nine months or so away (and it’s not even that cold, yet). The singlets and flip-flops have been packed away for good, traded for layers of warm clothes and umbrellas (actually the flip-flops are sitting in a dumpster somewhere in the south of Portugal somewhere cos I threw them out after stepping on a football-sized dog poo). My snowboard jacket has made its first appearance – in anticipation of harsh European winter temps – since hitting the slopes in British Columbia last year. The other major change of late is my hair. I traded in my luscious semi-blonde shoulder-length locks for an army-standard buzz-cut, the kinda haircut you can set your watch to (thanks Mildred). I look a little less like a hobo, and have been receiving 47 per cent less offers for drugs per day, which is good although the noggin is now a bit colder in the surf. I was trying to think of other stuff that had changed in my world but couldn’t think of much. I’ll undergo some major life changes in the months to come, and surely I’ve changed a lot over the past nine months but right now none are apparent to me. Plus you don’t wanna hear that shit. Continue reading

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Balls

Praia do Norte, Nazaré, on a good day. Would you go? Photo: ibaworldtour.com

ONE of the most radical things I’ve been lucky enough to experience through my travels is getting to see and surf waves I’d only previously seen in videos and magazines. Desert Point, Puerto Escondido, El Gringo and Mundaka are a few of the big-name spots I’ve ticked off the ol’ bucket list in the past few years and they’ve all lived up to expectations in terms of epic-ness and heart-in-your-mouth barrels. It’s a pretty sweet feeling paddling out to a spot you’ve heard so much hype about and drooled over for ages, and if you get a good one you can’t wipe the smile off your face for days. I’m currently in Nazaré, Portugal – a town with a wave so heavy I’ve heard it compared to Mexico’s Puerto Escondido and Mavericks in North California. Apparently an underwater canyon (one of the largest in the world), a geomorphological accident (I’m not gonna pretend to know what that means), leads Atlantic waves straight to this spot Praia do Norte almost without obstacles. This creates waves of unusual size compared to the rest of the Portuguese coast. It’s super massive and onshore today however and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit relieved at the conditions keeping me indoors watching cable instead of being really scared in frigid waters. Continue reading

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Wild

YESTERDAY I stood on a cliff looking out at the turbulent sea and said to my girlfriend something along the lines of, “fuck, it’s fucking windy”. 600 years ago old-timey medieval dudes in fruity hats used to stand on the same stretch of cliff and say to their girlfriends (probably), “good heavens Beatrice, I proclaim this to be the end of the world!” I’m currently in Sagres in the bottom left corner of Portugal and back in the day (i.e. when crew thought the world was flat) people considered the town – the furthest south-west you can go in Europe – to be the end of the earth. A guy called Henry the Navigator, the third kid of King John I of Portugal, became the driving force behind an age of exploration in Europe before he died in 1460, and obviously eventually everyone was like, “boy do I have egg on my face, there are heaps of other countries and places and Sagres definitely isn’t the end of the world”. But it really does have that ‘end-of-the-world’ vibe, as does the whole Algarve coast down here. 10-15ft swells regularly smack into the side of monstrous cliffs sending plumes of spray skyward, leaving you mesmerised, unable to look away. Continue reading

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Disposable

Dirty Dan (I think?) pulling in.

WHEN I was a little grom fresh on the bodyboard scene, my mates and I used to froth on disposable waterproof cameras. We could barely pull into the tube and aerials were only things you saw in videos, but we’d be in the water and when your mate was on the lens you dreamt of pulling into a heaving keg and seeing him sitting in the perfect spot with the camera pointed directly at you. In reality your mate would always be 20 metres away, holding the camera on a ridiculous angle while you scooped into a 1-ft mushburger but you still had visions of glory and cover-shots. And the anticipation after you dropped the camera off at the chemist for the film to be developed was almost too much to bear. ‘Come back in three business days,’ the heavily-made-up lady behind the counter would tell me, and exactly 72 hours later I’d hurriedly ride my bike back there to pick the photos up, often not registering the fact weekends and public holidays don’t count as business days. Not much has changed – I’m still a notorious photo-slut and I’ve started buying crappy disposable cameras again, hoping for someone to snap a turquoise-blue barrel shot of me to put up in the pool-room. The following photos were taken during a small, super-fun surf at Supertubes in Peniche, Portugal last week. I bought the camera for 30 dirhams (three Euros) at a Moroccan convenience store last month and I’d say the fare was well worth it. Continue reading

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Portugash

Shit got fun.

SORRY sports fans for the lack of updates this week. Internet access has been scarce since last Saturday but now I’m holed up in a flashy hotel room with WiFi and cable TV, so not only am I super comfortable and frothing out, I’m ready to update the shit out of ya. We arrived in Ericeira last Sunday after a big night on the sauce in Lisbon, hoping to score some Portugese juice. The forecast wasn’t looking pretty. Not long after meeting up with two mates from back home and jumping in our zippy rented Renault, we realised the weather was going to do its best to bend us over for the majority of the week. At times it felt as if the torrential rain and gale-force winds were going to tear down our two-bedroom bungalow, but it hung in there. The waves on the other hand, did not (to begin with). Ericeira’s famed reefs were being pounded by big swells but the wind was mashing it into a heaving chaotic soup, leaving us with little option than to drive north to nearby Peniche, which was also looking worse for wear. Continue reading

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