Sunday, 20 March 2016

This Is A Cloud

For a long time I've had a fascination with clouds which I think childhood wonder had something to do with. It's a humbled and harmless fascination so by all means tell the kids about it later. Yes, I love staring up at the sky and watching the clouds. I call this 'clouding' which is a word you're most welcome to start using. Words are for all, just like the grapes at the supermarket.
Moroccan Sky (taken 2016)

A few little things to share for the sake of keeping the paragraphs coming. Nexts to the fluffy buggers themselves I'm a massive fan of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (the Wachowski and Twyker adaptation is a favourite of mine) and the Greek myth of cloud nymphs; I've crossed paths with the story of Nephele since the childhood and it's a good one about a mother reuniting with her child. Judging from this you're probably guessing what the theme I'm going with is. Well I'll add that this blog I write and love, The Sheep Was Here, is a cloud. Funny, right?

I was sitting on the Roman Bridge in Cordoba, Spain in February past. My Samsung in one hand and a pistachio ice cream in the other, I was staring up from that bridge at the fluffy buggers in the sky. It was sunset, everyone was out and it was the most natural experience I'd had since arriving in Spain. Couldn't argue. There I was clouding; watching the shapes formed and shades taken before night overtook and it was el grande. Like always it was an ordinary means for me to pass the time... but one where I realised the most obvious of things. Regardless of the forms and shades taken they, the clouds, will always be what they are.

And this is where I keep you on track with what I'm ranting about. I've been blogging with this kind of enthusiasm for over a year now. I enjoy this hobby of mine immensely, I value how it's kept my quill going and I know there are those who enjoy reading it. Outside of my own people the Americans have a foothold, the Russians will spike with thirty views an hour every once in a while and very recently Italy has reared some very curious heads. Short of Antarctica I've had views from every continent.
Spanish Sky (taken 2016)

What I will add is that my blog lacks consistency in its content. An obvious given. Sometimes it'll be my humbled opinion or some fiction; maybe a bit of art work. In more than one case I might've come off as a little bit 'advertisy' about the places I've been. That certainly was an objective back in the beginning but I've since come to realise (the obvious, yes, again) that I'm not an advertiser. I'm a storyteller. Ava Duvernay said that to the critics. I do what I do because I want to share my words and not sell tickets. The Sheep Was Here is becoming less Never Ending Footsteps and more This Battered Suitcase.  

Until this post my blog has been a cloud but that's now a thing of the past. The change is happening. You'll still find stories about this Sheep out in the big and wide. You'll read about me at my best and at my worst; at my most rewarding and embarrassing (there's a Madrid tale to share). How the places visited inspired me will most definitely be explored. If it's just yarns you want, this is the page to come back to.

Like the clouds above the forms will still be taken but I'll no longer be adding the business touch that appeared in the beginning. It's gone for good! Hell I'm kinda happy about not having to load up on links each time I post one of these things. Fist to the air kiddies. Raise it high.
Australian Sky (taken 2016)

And with that proclaimed on the internet, let's keep going.           

Sunday, 13 March 2016


So here we are on the last postcard. These have been a memorable eightish weeks, I will say, and so I'll start off with two bits of writings. The first is a quote (yep, another one) from French author Andre Gide.

'Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.'

I guess in this context I'm the dude out on the water. Fortunately my hydrophobia is non existant these days. The second bit I'll bring to the page is, considering the places I've seen with my own eyes in the past twoish months, all I can really add is, 'DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!'
Stonehenge, England (taken 2016)

I'm back in London now, sitting in the hostel communal area where the WiFi is strong, listening to some good tunes and eating raspberries I bought off a Nigerian at Tesco who wasn't afraid to condemn working on Sundays. I gave myself two full days here in England and I'm wishing for more. I plan things out badly sometimes.

First I want to say that my faith in the London accommodation scene has been restored in full. I think this had a lot to do with the YHA having a reception desk and the right idea about cleaning the place up each and every day. The hostel is also very close to Primrose Hill which I'll sit upon for my final sunrise in this city I like TOO much. Amsterdam will probably call me a whore for saying this but MEH!
Bath, England (taken 2016)

Judging from the pictures I'm posting you've (good reader) already figured I hit both Stonehenge and Bath in my brief time here. I convinced myself that the weather would be more merciful if I went in March when Spring was rearing its flowery head. Adding now that I'm glad I did. It was an amazing and unregrettable way to end my journey.

Add to that, I met some Aussies, dude of which had the same surname as myself. Definitely surprising. Things got a little spooky when his partner mentioned MY sister by name (they used to work together) which made me realise we'd been in the same room as each other. The world is shrinkin!
London, England (taken 2016)

Then there's the last full city day to bring up which I'm more than happy to do. For ages I've imagined how this mellow or lazy or productive day would play out. Would it be a mix of all three? Would something random take place which would call for my embassy's involvement? Blipped if I know.

I caught the big red bus for the first time and did a lap of the city with the Underground and my feet getting me from A to B. They didn't hurt at all so thank **** for that! Fish and chips were had and a trip to the Sherlock Holmes Museum was taken. A few treats for myself and the little people who call me uncle were purchased as well. For those wondering flashy London train stations are a promising source of expensive souvenirs.
London, England (taken 2016)

Yeah, things have been el grande and I couldn't be more happy with myself. This little Dorito Tour, of which I titled because the route (if you draw it up on a map) resembles an upside down corn chip, has amazed and thrilled and surprised and even pissed me off... will go down as one of THE best decisions I ever made and worked for. The full year of chlorine on my skin has paid off so YEAH!!!

Two months rocking a backpack was a big ask and it most definitely brought out the worst in me (having two Spanish anxiety attacks is something I won't wish on anyone), but also my optimistic side. When in doubt of the steps I was going to take I reminded myself of what I'd find on the other end. Who I'll meet. I've met some amazing people and caught up with some I haven't seen in so long. They brought the positivos (except for those people) and I couldn't be more grateful. This post is for them!

For almost a month or so now I've told myself that I'll never spend an extended amount of time outside of Australia again; there's so much attached that I just don't want to deal with like bank shit and the Portuguese demanding to know why I'm not going to Portugal (seriously!) This I didn't promise to myself because those little things have a tendancy to shatter.
The Next Adventure (taken 2016)

Just in case you can't read my handwriting...

NEXT TIME (2018)
Berlin, Germany (Black Forest, LISA!!!)
The Netherlands (Cathy, Dennis and kids, Amsterdam, everywhere I didn't see last time)
Belgium (Yann and Sandra, hopefully!!!)
England (places and awesome people)
Scotland (because I can!!!)
Iceland (the Riley Blue spots, Northern Lights and others)

Anything in brackets are a priority, and for those curious I'm more than happy to repeat things in a European winter. Berlin will be the first stop considering I've been kicking myself for not doing it this time. I'm fun like that... and mental. I hope you've enjoyed these words on location... as have I... and I look forward to doing again.


Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Water Walker

I'm in the hostel bar with a cup of tea and some syrup biscuits I'm happy to have consumed, along with a most effective quote I learnt here in Amsterdam.

'To build a future, you have to know the past.'

Those words were voiced by Otto Frank back in 1967 and they carry weight. His daughter Anne may be one of the most influential voices in history (I'm going so far as to say she was the Malala Yousafzai of her time) but the father had something positive that I wanted to share. I'm nearing the end of my journey and I already find myself planning the next one, again in the European winter which quite frankly, I don't mind. I've learnt a lot in the past seven weeks and I'm most convinced that next time things will be SO much better.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

Amsterdam, where do I begin? This stop has almost been five years in the making. My friend moved out to Holland with her family to be with family and I made the promise to come and visit. Well, the European stint was coming to fruition and making that visit became THE priority of the Netherlands. It's why I'm here!

The day out in Emmeloord was great and a return to reality which I was in dire want of. The simplist of things can make THE most profound of changes. After that I spent most of my remaining time in Amsterdam, with a few hours out in Zaanse Schan which I'm thankful for having added on at the last minute. Why, you might be asking? Well it's because nothing has gone wrong!!!
Amsterdam, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

I. Love. This. City! Melbourne might have a river running through it but Amsterdam has canals. CANALS PEOPLE!!! This city was built ON water and I never stopped walking it, hence the reason for this cyber postcard's title if anyone was scratching their head. Back to business, this city left me smiling. I tend to stray away from spending too much time in an urban environment (see the postcard about Spain and you'll read my thoughts on Madrid) but the Dutch capital has had the opposite effect on me. I want to see more. I want to see the Netherlands; plenty I've heard has sparked my interest in Rotterdam and the Hague. A return trip will be happening! This country makes me want to write.

I've kept myself busy for the past few days and so some stories can be told. Prior to coming some places had made my list ie the Anne Frank House, Zaanse Schan and some others. A few extras were thrown in simply because I could. There are a lot of positivos here kiddies, which I will get to, but with only one or two negatives thrown in for balance.
Royal Palace, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

First one is how similar the Dutch pave their main roads and footpaths (thought I'd seen the end of that blood sport road madness back in Morocco but no) and the second is that NONE of the souvenir shops sell little wooden animals. Magnets and salt and pepper shakers doing eachother, yes, but no wooden animals?! The OCD was getting to me which I'm not a fan of, but with the wise advice of my quote bitch back home I settled on a wooden tulip. Now, time for positivos!

A blasphemy I consider it to come to Amsterdam and ignore the Anne Frank House; this is THE place to see. Like a boss though I didn't book my ticket online months in advance (which no one was kidding about) and so I was destined to stand in the line. However, when one has awoken early and given the finger to the cold the first place in said line is assured. Well worth the sleep deprivation. Staying on topic, I'll add that never have I walked through a more thought provoking environment. Looking at the diary itself was a privilege.
Anne Frank Statue, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

I went to Zaanse Schan for one thing; windmills. The train ride out there was easy enough, as was the one kilometre walk to the place itself. You're treated to a very 'industrial path' at first, which I wasn't caring for, but after some steps you get the postcard imagry it's known for. The windmills here treated me to some humble living and the colours of the houses convinced me that Heineken sponsored their construction.
Zannse Schan, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

When the many think of Amsterdam there's one place that might come to mind automatically... especially if you're a nympho (I'm NOT one of those FYI!!!) The Red Light District wasn't on my original to-do list but after adding on some time I thought, what the hell. Doing a walking tour which featured a variety of interested (and maybe perverted) individuals, we entered the realm of the sex worker. Thanks to the guide, who I must get around to reviewing on Tripadvisor, I laughed. The little-dressed ladies waving at me from their rented windows wasn't bad either.
The Red Light District, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

And that's where I'll leave things... for now. If I kept going I'll start repeating myself and that's a torment I don't wish to inflict upon myself. This whole trip has come with its ups and downs, which has been no secret if you're Friends with me on the Facebook abomination, but I am grateful and optimistic that my final steps will be towards a greater conclusion.

Amsterdam... and the rest of the Netherlands which I will explore in depth hopefully after next year, I say thank you.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands (taken 2016)

Friday, 4 March 2016

And All The Colored Girls Said...

To start on a more emotional note, a few days ago I was saddened to learn my uncle, Doug, had passed on the 29th of February, 2016. What I'm equally upset about is that I cannot attend the funeral on account of having a week and a half remaining of backpacking. So, with that said I'm dedicating this cyber postcard to him. You will forever be loved for your humour and crazy faces and I'm all to certain that you'll find that Subway on the other side that sells soup. Rest peacefully.
The Sahara, Merzouga, Morocco (taken 2016)

Yes, I have titled this one with a lyric from Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side and yes, there is a reason. In one of my anxious moments, this one being in Tangier before a train ride, it got me to shut the hell up! Yep, that's it, so let's move on yeah?

Instead of traveling to one continent I decided to add on another, simply because I can, and that's how I wound up in the very African Morocco. Getting here was a pain (never catching the ferry to Tangier again), putting up with the shamsters and second lot of hostel staff was a pain (should've given them the finger!) and enduring THE worst camel saddle EVER was a pain (literally). That, however, is where all the negativos began to lessen.

Morocco, this strange and crazy place I've spent months believing is the Thailand of Africa, has been very good to me. I was once told of how easy it can be to get here when in Europe (Spain to be exact) which is how all of this came to be. It started out rocky and intimidating (just crossing the streets here is a blood sport of its own calibre) but it only got better. I've climbed a few dunes at sunset, let a wild monkey climb on my back and drunk my weight in mint tea which has been THE most unexpected of surprises (up until two weeks ago I avoided the flavour with a passion).
Place Jemaa El Fna, Marrakech, Morocco (taken 2016)

Marrakech itself has been a most unique experience; I've never been to a city like it before. The souks and fresh orange juice of Place Jemaa El Fna are more than enough to leave an impression and the alleys tell you easily enough that you're a long way from home. The food scene is easy enough to navigate, especially for a non foodie (the strawberries are a superior fruit here) and the people are so genuine and kind. I had a few run-ins with some idiots in my first twelve hours, a torment we're all like to endure, but don't let the bullshit of a few shape your perception of the many. There are true smiles in this country, as well as stalks soaring over its rooftops.

I've had a few stints all over which I've enjoyed immensely. Ourika Valley, Cascade D'Ozoud (THE second highest waterfall in Africa I might add) and Ksar Ait Benhaddou (another Game of Thrones filming location) just to name a few. The Atlas Mountains were bused through and the snow coating them reminded me of the stripes of zebra foals.
The Atlas Mountains, Morocco (taken 2016)

I was intending to go to Essouira to see the Atlantic Ocean one last time but I wasn't up for an even longer drive. My legs were going to end me if I did. I thus settled for D'Ozoud and I regret nothing. Hell, seeing the falcons of Essaoira is reason enough to come back one day.
Cascade D'Ozoud, Morocco (taken 2016)

Of course though, when one thinks of Morocco you're almost guaranteed to picture a desert in your mind. Upon learning of how easy it can be to do a three day tour to the Sahara I thought, what's wrong with four? I had the extra time afterall.

There was a lot of road, a lack of information in some departments (had I known I had to tip my Berbers I would've brought the extra money and there'd be a few happier Berbers out there) but most certainly some memories to carry with you forever. I've done the Little Sahara on Kangaroo Island and now I've done the motherload. IT. WAS. EPIC!!!
The Sahara, Merzouga, Morocco (taken 2016)

I travel for nature, that now being a decision I will live by until my final chapter, but meeting others on the road will always hold prominance. I'm an introverted asocial freak, which is no secret, and of course talking to others has always been really difficult for me. In Morocco, talking to everyone else has never been easier! Never been more natural for me. I've Facebooked with so many I find myself wondering when the catch will present itself. These two weeks started out with some shit attached but they're ending better than I ever could've predicted.

Some I've met don't consider Morocco a part of Africa, but I will fiercely disagree. I'm proud of myself for venturing to a fourth continent, and now I want to see more; South Africa, Uganda, Kenya etc. The people have been amazing (except for some bastards who will remain hated) and the sights and sounds will last forever. The call for Islamic prayer is something I might just miss.

I'm writing this down on my last day. My gut is stuffed from the chwarmer I ate for lunch (the Avengers had it after saving New York) and my legs are dead from walking around looking for the Jardine Menara and a wooden cobra for my Burnables Collection (I haggled and I won!) With all of this out in the open, I couldn't be more sure that this will go down as one of the greatest experiences I've ever had.


  The Sahara, Merzouga, Morocco (taken 2016)