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Published: September 5th 2011
Part of the crew BBQing at Kings Park
Hey everyone, long time no write. I haven’t had a lot to write about of late, mostly just working and hanging out with people at the hostel. Room 25 (the 16 bed male dorm I’ve been living in for the past few months ) is kind of like a second home. All the guys here are really good friends, Maik (Mikey) and Karl, my German buddies from Berlin, Joost (pronounced Yoh-st) from the Netherlands, Julies the token Kiwi, Dino the Scottish chef, Loic our tiny Frenchman (addicted to Uno like some people are to drugs), Nick and Matt from England, Josh the only other Canadian from in the hostel and from Vancouver (though I am the cooler of the 2 Canadians here without question ), Roman, the quiet regular sized French guy, and Darren, an English guy from the north who recently left and spoke some form of crazy bastard (seriously, his accent was so thick that I had trouble, I often had to translate into English for Loic to understand).
Hostel life is pretty standard, having been here for
What did you say?
Canucks suck?! Ice Bears Suck!
Me and Maik joking around
so long I have gotten to know most of the long-termers pretty well. Many of the people who stayed here long term have left for the Old Swan Barracks (a hostel about 5 minutes away in North Bridge where we all go on Thursdays for cheap burgers) but we often meet at King’s Park on Sundays for barbeques. I have been adding to my linguistic skills, I now know a bit of Swedish, Dutch, am working more on my German (not as much as I would like) and even know a few choice words in Irish (Gaelic).
I will miss the room 25 dynamic I think, we have all been in here for weeks and know each other very well, be it Loic’s love of Uno or him shouting “Be careful!” as he throws something into the ceiling fan on max speed, Mikey asking “Erich (Eer-ich ) Was ist da los?” the response was usually “Ich habe keine anung!”, Karl exclaiming “Oooooooooooooooh! Eric! You go to take a shower now?” (Imagine it in a put on Asian accent [we had a Korean roommate who always sounded very
Two visitors to the BBQ
surprised about everything and it stuck long after he left] and used for the most mundane things), having to translate nearly anything Darren said so that the French guys could understand what he was saying (when I could understand to translate), Joost’s comments on the European hippie and music culture (as well as another culture from the Netherlands), and either Nick or Matt shouting at their i-phones as they watched a football match from back home (Manchester fans, serious business). There were tons of great times that I can’t recount here and one of the few regrets that I have is that I took so few pictures, though through the wonders of the internet and Facebook I am beginning to amass some of the pictures that others were kind enough to take.
I recently had some issues with my passport, namely the fact that it expires on the 15th of November 2011 and I leave for Germany on the 12th of September, giving my just over 2 months before it expires. The problem is that most countries say you should have 3 months past your expected date of departure remaining on your passport, many not even allowing entry unless
Swimming at Cottesloe Beach!
you have 6. Ok so get a new one right? Well that would have been a great idea had I gone about doing that a couple months ago, but when I realized the problem, I had 2 weeks remaining before I was due to leave. Hypothetically a passport can be processed in 2 weeks if you have all the documentation, pictures and forms signed by guarantor and all ready to submit. As my guarantor was in Canada, everything would have to be sent back and returned to Australia before I could submit it.
But Eric, why not get an Emergency passport from the Canadian Consulate? That’s what they’re there for right? Well, not really. The Canadian Consulate in Perth is an ‘Honorary’ Consulate which means that it is a contractor that works for the Canadian High Commission, getting all of it’s forms and instructions from the Canadian Embassy in Canberra. Basically they’re just a glorified secretarial service. Emergency passports can take just as long and they are only to be used if returning to Canada, not other countries, and as I originally informed the person at the embassy over the phone that I still did have my unexpired passport, I did not qualify for an emergency one (that’s what I get for being honest right?).
Ok, so I won’t be getting a passport before I leave Australia, that’s just the way it is, I should have started the process earlier, lets work on getting into Germany despite that. It states on the German Foreign Office’s (immigration) website that your passport only requires validity to the end of your planned visit, though it is ADVISABLE that you have an additional 3 months after intended departure. I interpret that as saying that it is possible to get into the country though there could be problems if some things were not smoothed out. Next stop Air Emirates office Perth! I explained the passport situation and the information I gathered from the German immigration website, they looked it up and verified it themselves. I said that I planned to leave at the end of October and I had a plane ticket out of England (at the time I did not) so I would be returning home before my passport expired, they said that was alright and would make a note in my ticket file so that I would not be barred entry onto the plane on my departure date.
My friend Kerstin in Germany helped out as well by going to the Foreign Office in Munich and asked about my situation with all of the information about passport expiry date and entry and exit dates. She was told that if the information was accurate (which it was), there should not be a problem gaining entry to Germany. I know they used the SHOULD word, but after the 2 days spent running around Perth making phone calls to embassies both Canadian and German, visiting travel agents (all of which were useless), and making sure I would be able to get on the plane, that is a lot better than I started with and is a load off my mind.
I later did buy a ticket flying out of London England to Toronto for October 25th, though that was primarily to have proof of exit. The ticket was only $440 for the 1 way, but I plan to push the date back when I get my passport renewed. I will first try to get a Working Holiday Visa for Germany, then for the United Kingdom if work in Germany is difficult to find. I do have some more contacts in Germany who may be able to assist me in that regard.
Besides that whole hubub, gone are my glassy days of getting hassled on the floor by drunk idiots or groped by women much older than I would care to mention, no now I work behind the bar (sometimes band, sometimes main) pouring beer and mixing Jack and Coke along with vodka lemon limes. I get tips, though certainly not half as good as the girls bartending, but it usually covers a kebab (we call them doners back home but the British say you sound like you’re trying to ‘posh’ it up when you say it like that, unless you pronounce it don-urh ) that I get discount from the Turkish place across the street while in uniform. One of the bouncers thinks he’s a really funny guy, and now that they have stamps he does everything he can to get a stamp on the bar staff, be that as they’re walking in or even across the bar, pretending to simply shake your hand. I got off lucky and only got the one across the bar, but a guy named Ben got 5 all the way up his arm, the ink is quite tough to wash off.
Many people at work now think that all Canadians live in a frozen tundra since I enjoy sitting outside on my half hour break (usually after midnight) where the others only go if they have to smoke. It’s only 10-15 degrees out on any given night, and it gets so hot inside with so many people and the electric heaters by the doors that it is a relief to be able to sit out in nothing by my work shirt and drink a (Free!) pint of Coca Cola with ice. My usual break buddies are Erin (Australian), Max (Australian), and Souze (Brazilian) who are all so fond of the heat that they wear undershirts as well as their work shirts, then winter jackets (Souze even wears another long sleeve shirt under his work shirt while inside) when outside!
I’ve been to the beach a couple times, once with most of the crew from Globe and the Swan where those hardy enough to brave the cold (not really since it was 25 degrees out ) man eating great white shark infested Indian Ocean. It seemed that only one Canadian guy, two Swedish girls, a Scottish and English guy and an English couple had the nerves to get wet, not one of the many Germans who was there went swimming, though there may have been others to go in after I left. I swam with a bunch of them and had a great time despite the fact that I was running on 3 hours of sleep after getting off work! The list of oceans and seas I need to submerge in is getting shorter.
Karl and Maik leave tomorrow so we had a going away party for them on Saturday night (I had to request a day off of work which is always a pain in the ass but it was worth it). We got about half the hostel and a bunch of the others from the Old Swan Barracks and went off to the Brass Monkey (a bar in town that has some cheap drinks and nice music, we then went to the Mustangs bar which is more of a dance club. My friend Sabine (Sah-bee-neh) from the Swan and I joined them later and as a result were much less drunk than the rest of them and incurred no hangover. She left for a job at a travel agency in Sydney today so that was rather sad, it seems that everyone is leaving and it may be difficult to see them again. Sabine will be back in Germany in 6 months, so I may see her again if I am still there, but Karl and Maik won’t be back until mid to late April, so it will have to be the next trip to Europe.
I will write a brief update before leaving , but I will do what I can to update more often in Europe. It should be much easier to get writing inspiration as well as a drive to take photos. Perhaps there will be easier access to the internet too!
Take care everyone, I’ll talk at you all again soon.
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