25 August 2008

Destination 4: Helsinki, or, How We Became the Friend of a Fisherman

Oh yes! Hello there dear reader!

After a brief disappearance from these hallowed electronic pages, we return! And all we manage to come up with for you, oh dearest reader, is this droll rubbish.

And yet you continue to come back.

Are you into S&M perhaps? For surely this must be worse than self-flagellation, non?

Now. Anyway. As our brief and torrid love affair with New York was coming to a grinding halt, we stood on the corner, waved down several cabs and waited until we could find one that was actually willing to leave Manhattan and take us out to JFK. We were lucky to do so; in fact we made it to the airport just in time: only 50 minutes before our departure!

We rushed through the airport formalities (HIGHLY surprised by the way to discover zero passport control when leaving the United States!), and boarded our absolutely ancient looking Finnair MD-11. With mild trepidation, we stepped into the creaky aircraft and silently prayed that it would safely deliver us on the eastern edge of another continent: Helsinki, site of Eurovision 2007!!!

Yes! We were returning to the site of our former pilgrimage! Indeed Finnair delivered us safely to the tarmac of Helsinki airport where we were warmly greeted by our old friends who we were catching up with. We were whisked into the city centre where we dumped our belongings and then worked out a plan on how to best spend the 48 hours or so that we had together.

It didn’t really involve any sightseeing as we had been in the city just the previous year.

The plan, rather, was drinking.

Oh dear! What a funny time. It also involved cultural ‘exchanges’ of sorts, meaning, getting us to eat the most revolting things that Finland had to offer. Top of the list were the various kinds of salted liquorice available there – and indeed, much loved there. Unfortunately for our uninitiated taste buds, it was one of the most revolting things we’d ever tasted. Here is the only photograph to accompany this post: Eurotrash regurgitating the salted liquorice into the kitchen sink:

And then it was time for the drinking. We proceeded to visit several bars (the first of which was delightfully named “We Got Beef”. Yes, that is true. It was called “We Got Beef”), and during that time, we were told to try a shot.

We were presented with a small shot glass of dark brown liquid. We were instructed not to smell it, not to sip it, but just to open up and swallow.

Ummm… No snide comments now…

Anyway, we did as instructed and drank the shot of stuff.

And suddenly, everything was CLEAR!!! Our sinus passages were clear, we mean. We could breathe easily and we had super fresh breath, AND we got a simultaneous head spin from the alcohol content!

This miracle liquid was called “Fissu”.

Any ideas what is in it, dear reader?

Here is the recipe.

Take TWO PACKETS of Fisherman’s Friend breath fresheners. That’s correct. Two packets. Of Fisherman’s Friend.

Take one bottle of vodka.

Add crushed up Fisherman’s Friend to the vodka.

Shake periodically over the course of two or three days until the vodka completely dissolves the Fisherman’s Friend.


Oh. My. God.


OK, so on the surface of it, it seems gross right? But think about it. You get hideously drunk, but you’ve still got minty fresh breath for that random pash at the end of the night…

It’s a winning combination!

And so our time in Helsinki ended with a hideous headache and a wish that we had more time there to spend with our dear darling friends. Then again, we shall be residing in Oslo for the rest of the year and it is only a short hop, skip and a jump back to Helsinki…

For now, anyway, it was time to keep on moving on and the next stop was Stockholm! The home of tall beautiful blonde people!

We thought so anyway. Oh how different reality is!

Au revoir,


12 August 2008

Destination 3: New York, New York

Un hommage à Madamoiselle Carrie Bradshaw

As I sat at the bench facing the window of the Starbucks on 49th and 7th, all I could see in front of me were people on the sidewalk going through the motions of life. There were pairs of lovers walking in hand-in-hand, new moms pushing along their designer dressed babies, younger people talking about changing the world, older people talking about how the world had changed too much.

Despite all of these different groups of people, it seemed like they were all linked some how. They all had something in their step which drove them along. As I contemplated this, sipping at my skinny-frappacino-mocha-caramel-chai-latte and tapping aimlessly at the keyboard of my Mac notebook, watching the cursor blink at me on the plain white screen, I couldn't help but wonder... and then my cell phone rang.

It was him.


I’d accepted an invitation to stay with him at this apartment on 71st between Columbus and Central Park West, and he now said he wanted to show me around town. And that, I have to say, was the start of something wonderful. Something that will last a lifetime. I’d never felt like this before – in just a few short days, I fell in love.

Big met me and said he had to show me his New York.

It started innocently enough with a classic salmon and cream cheese bagel

and ended up in the most ridiculous-fabulous way I could have ever imagined. And so here’s everything else that happened in between:

Discovering big city life from the top of the Rockefeller Centre,

to seeing city night lights from the top of the Empire State Building.

After seeing a couple of Broadway shows, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed each time I stepped out into Times Square, as bright and as busy as if it was the middle of the day:

In amongst the maddening crush of people, I found a small oasis in Bryant Park where you could pick up a read at lunch time in the Outdoor Reading Room, and by night it turned into an outdoor cinema.

I was shown where the world meets,

and I saw where the world sells.

No sales on Manolos here though unfortunately. None on Jimmy Choos either.

I passed a gorgeous afternoon in the sun, strolling the streets of the Village where I was shown where the best pizza, best Thai, best cookies, best gelato, best cheeses are all available… And there I hung out in the Cornelia Street Café which was the venue for the first ever reading of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monolgues and was also the café where that Matthew Broderick took out his now wife, you know, ahhhhhhh… what’s-her-name… on their very first date together.

New York was an assault on my senses, even more so than my skinny-frappacino-mocha-caramel-chai-latte assaults my insides. It’s a completely overwhelming place that can intrigue, anger, inspire, throttle, enliven and amaze you – all simultaneously. It’s so overwhelming in fact that I saw it do strange things to people…

It can make you go rollerblading with water bottles balanced on your head!

It can make you think you’re incredibly hot hot hot!

It can make you jump for absolute joy, just like Mario Lopez of former Saved by the Bell fame!

It can make you go out in public wearing matching outfits!

It can certainly make you do insane things. And New York certainly had that effect on me.

What effect did New York have on me? As my time in New York came to a close, I thought the only suitable way to finish up would be to go out in style:


After a nice little helicopter ride around Manhattan…

I couldn’t ask for more.

As my helicopter rose over the jagged skyline of Manhattan, I finally realised the answer to my Starbucks-skinny-frappacino-mocha-caramel-chai-latte question. I now knew what was affecting all of those people I saw in the street. It was New York herself. The ole dame gives off so much energy that you can’t help at all but be swept up in it all and be taken along for the wonderful ride that is life in the Big Apple. It really is everything at once, and this city can be a million different things to a million different people. To me, it felt like it should. It felt like the centre of the universe, where anything and everything goes.

My time in the city had come to an all-too-quick close. As I bid farewell to my generous host, Mr Big, I realised that I had fallen completely in love. In love with New York, and it’s just the start – the start of a beautiful love affair that’s gonna last forever.



Destination 2: Arkansas and Missouri the Show-Me State!

Oh dearest reader.

Here we are once again, significantly delayed in updating you on our voyages, and unashamedly unapologetic for it! Our trip has remained so incredibly FABULOUS that we have hit the proverbial hay each night with aching feet, tired eyes and not a fibre of our being left able to sit and type a few words to you.

But now, gentle reader, that time is over! For now we find ourselves starting to slow the pace down (a little bit), and able to bring you – lovely, lovely reader – into the picture: since last writing about San Francisco, there has been much that we have seen; much that we have done; and much that we have laughed and pointed at!

And so, now it is time to cast our mind back into the distant and murky past and recall everything that was…

The South and Midwest of America!

So we left the fair city of San Francisco – the shining metropolis of bays, bridges, fog, and fabulous shoes. We jumped in a Southwest flying machine (with unreserved seating! How uncouth!), and zipped across the dusty deserts of California and Arizona, and eventually landed in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was there that our rental car was waiting for us, and in true American style, it was the largest thing we had ever seen:

It really was not what we had expected – we were anticipating something substantially smaller, however we took it with glee and hit the road bound for Springdale, Arkansas. Our little heart skipped a beat as we turned on the radio and found a local station with host “Sheree” who was running a program akin to MIX’s Love Song Dedications which our Australian readers would be familiar with. Sheree was delightful and provided the perfect soundtrack to our drive. As Sheree pumped up the volume on Dirty Dancing’s “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”, we really thought that it couldn’t get much better than that!

But, of course, it did.

For after arriving in Arkansas and enjoying a late dinner in a local fine dining establishment (i.e. a Thai ‘restaurant’ in a dive motel), the very next morning we (that is, Eurotrash and our relatives that we were visiting in Arkansas), packed our car and drove across another frontier border and into the state of Missouri!!

Now, if one takes a closer look at the above picture, one would notice the Missouri state slogan. Each state in the US has a slogan which is supposed to highlight their greatest asset or pitch it as an attractive place to visit.

For some reason, the powers-that-be in Missouri long ago decided that Missouri should be known as the “Show-Me State”.


What indeed is Missouri supposed to be showing us? How does this transaction work? Does Missouri automatically show us things of general and specific interest? Or are we supposed to ask Missouri for particular things and then our wishes would be granted as Missouri lived up to its name as the “Show-Me State” and actually showed us what we wished to see?

How is this mysterious “Show-Me” supposed to work?!

In our profound confusion and befuddlement, we rolled on in to the town of Branson where we were passing the next couple of nights. Branson, we were told, is the home of family entertainment in the United States with theatres galore, theme parks and general wondrous attractions. As the glory of Branson slowly revealed its self, we decided to try it out asking the Show-Me State to show us interesting things and see what would happen.

And we were not disappointed for Missouri was indeed the Show-Me State, and whenever we asked, Missouri followed through showed us everything our hearts desired!!

Dear oh amazing Show-Me State of Missouri! We are longstanding fans of perennial heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio! If only we could see a monument to his greatness, we would be ever so happy! Show-Me the Titanic oh Show-Me State of Missouri!

Oh!! Gosh!! There it is!! Yes dear reader, you are looking at a portion of a full replica of the Titanic, sitting attractively in a parking lot right next to Highway 76 in Branson, Missouri. And what’s more, this is not even a regular Titanic attraction. No! It is a full museum dedicated not to the actual Titanic, but rather it is a full museum dedicated SOLELY to the “Greatest Movie of All Time – James Cameron’s TITANIC!”. Oh yes, this is one for the movie fans only. If you have any interest in maritime history, then what are you doing at a Titanic replica in land locked Branson, Missouri??

We decided to try again as our first request was so overwhelmingly wonderful!

Dear oh stupendous Show-Me State of Missouri! We are intrigued by the mysteries of the world, and have heard of such wonders as an ‘Elephants Graveyard’ where old elephants congregate to die together. Is there any such phenomenon here in your state? Show-Me your version of the Elephants Graveyard oh Show-Me State of Missouri!

Oh!! Gosh!! It’s an AGEING CELEBRITY GRAVEYARD here in Branson, Missouri!

So NOW we know where the other stars go who don't get offered a residency contract in Las Vegas...

Are you serious, oh Show-Me State of Missouri? Andy-friggin-Williams is still alive? And he’s accompanied by Ann-Margaret?? Oh, my heart palpitates with such excitement! We hoped to see Andy and Ann-Margaret in show before they trundled off to die (some time soon quite likely), but there were so many other attractions to see that we forgot all about them as soon as had taken that photo.

Hmmmm. Now it was time to ask for some other things…

Dear oh astounding Show-Me State of Missouri! As a world-traveller, we are interested in knowing how we shall indeed be travelling in the future! Oh Show-Me State of Missouri! Show-Me the future of economy class travel!!

Oh!! Gosh!! How accurate your forecasting seems to be!

Dear oh astonishing Show-Me State of Missouri! As we are now in the heartland of America, we wish to see a lovely ice-skating show with acrobatic performers that magically morphs into a display of over the top Americana thereby reinforcing the image that America is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, and thereby inducing the hick audience to spontaneously jump to their feet and stomp and clap in applause and general acclaim, and then have the ice-skating show dedicated to American servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq!

OK... so you got the first part oh omnipotent Show-Me State of Missouri! What about the rest of our request?

Oh!! Gosh!! Show-Me State of Missouri! You really can come up with just about anything at all! Your powers of Showing-Me are limitless!!

Dear oh startling Show-Me State of Missouri! We trot around the globe in search of knowledge and life experience, but what of love? When, oh when, will we find our One True Love, our heart’s true desire, our True Love’s Kiss (note homage to Disney’s ‘Enchanted’ here dear reader: essential viewing)?

Well, after all of this excitement, let us assure you gentle reader, we simply had to leave Branson, Missouri as we were on the verge of expiring from using superlatives to describe our experiences and the stunning powers of the Show-Me State. It was time to head back to Arkansas.

Upon arrival, we headed out for the quintessential American experience: a baseball game. We found that, remarkably, we quite enjoyed ourselves! But please be reassured dearest reader, we did not enjoy it for the sport itself. No, remarkably, a baseball game is little about the actual baseball at all! It seemed that between almost every pitch, there was some sort of cerebral-numbing event:

A running race between a Pringles tube, the Cheetos leopard and another unidentifiable consumer product mascot!

A spelling competition sponsored by a medical centre (hence the spelling word of rheumatology) that was participated in by a man in a giant strawberry outfit!

An inexplicable mid-field ‘stacks-on’ of cows wearing shirts saying “Eat More Chicken”!

At the end of all of this excitement, we were surprised to find that our time in Arkansas was up and it was time to move on. It is always quite amazing to discover how time does fly when one has fun.

Yes dear reader, that is correct. We had fun. A whole lot of fun actually! It was such a pleasure to visit our relatives and see their young family prospering and blossoming in a new country! It was wonderful to discover that ‘Southern hospitality’ actually exists and really is as warm, friendly and inviting as promised! We just enjoyed seeing an alternative side to America which is generally off the beaten track of the well worn tourist trail.

However, all this warm fuzziness came to an abrupt halt as we caught a bus from Fort Smith to Little Rock, Arkansas so that we could connect to a flight to New York.

As we boarded a Greyhound Bus at 3:15am (yes! AM! In the morning!) in Fort Smith (otherwise known as Skanksville, Middle-of-Fuck-Knows-Where County, Arkansas), we were highly displeased to find our good self, Eurotrash, sitting next to actual Southern trash.

Oh! We kill ourselves with our wit and humour!

And so one chapter of the Do-Re-Mi World Tour ended, another began…

Between now and when we write that next chapter up for you, oh lovely reader,

À bientôt,