Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Welcome to Switzerland

After almost smashing the world record for the 500 metre dash with 40 kilos of luggage in transit in Berlin because my connecting plane was 2 hours late, I was ecstatic to see my stunning cousin Jen waiting for me at the airport in zurich with a sign that read WELCOME TO SWITZERLAND KP. I have always wanted a sign like that to be waiting for me and my first impressions of Switerland shpowed me that dreams can come true.

Jen's gorgeous face beamed as I approached and we chatted all the way to her apartment in Zug, a small fairy tale town on a picture perfect lake back dropped by mountains outside of Zurich.

Robbi, Jen's husband was picking up their brand new car and when we got home we went for a spin in their white Land Rover Defender, every boys dream come true.

Jen is one of the most thoughtful and generous people i know and she had prepared for my stay complete with a teddy bear, chocolates and hidden pre Christmas presents under my pillow... it was so nice to be home!

Friday, December 15, 2006


KP on the Shoot
Originally uploaded by kathrynparry41.

I arrived at Budapest airport very keen and excited to see an old friend from Oxford, Mark is living in Budapest at the expense of his London law firm who sent him to Hungry on secondment.

We met near the Opera House on Andrassy Uta (the Champs Elysees of Budapest, and spine of down town Pest, a street filled with designer boutiques and stunning Christmas lights).

The Callas Cafe was stunning, gorgeous high ceilings, white tiled interior and dark wood furniture. I ordered a traditional Goulash soup, it came with a thick layer of grease on the top that kinda just floated there but was delicious.

Afterwards, Mark showed me to his palatial apartment and I mean PALATIAL, it was a real treat with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Opera House and more rooms than one single person ought to have.

That night, Mark and I arranged to go out for dinner with his friend, another English lawyer also living in Budapest on secondment. We went to a stylish restaurant called Mokka and I proceeded to have the wild bore, compared to the nasty pictures I have seen on the net subsequently the pig taste quite gentle.

That night, after dinner Mark delivered some chocolates to his friend and had a night cap despite saying he would return home, he spent the night and I was left in the palatial apartment by myself. I awoke several times convinced that the phantom from the opera (from across the road) had decided to haunt me instead. The apartment made more noises than I remember any other home letting out. The heating rattled like an old train, and the light fitting in my room was broken and several times I was a woken to my light flashing on and off quickly.

The following night, Mark and I ate at Menza, a funky restaurant that you could be forgiven for thinking was in London or Sydney. I was surprised to see how sophisticated and global Budapest had got in the five years since my last visit, gone were the preforming monkeys at the train stations, the weary looking faces and run down apartment blocks, replaced with a city on the brink of prosperity. Chain stores were in abundance, the same stores that line the high street in every European city, H&M, Zara, Clinique and top shop are on every corner, I also notices an abundance of cranes, perhaps on vacation from Berlin an indicator of the enormous growth and development that had been stimulated through Hungary's inception into the EU.

The next night, Mark and I went to the ballet at the Opera House and I dressed up a treat, we saw the Nutcracker and for a few hours I was back watching the Bolshoi ballet at the Sydney Opera House with my mother aged 5, memories came flooding back, a good sound track always does that... well done Tchaikovsky.

Afterwards, we decided to have dinner at Menza again (because it really is that good) and Mark went back to the office to do what corporate lawyers do best... and called me later to say he was leaving the office.

Mark was late and in typical KP fashion, I managed to strike up a conversation with three empowering and wonderful women sitting near by. The women were great value and consisted of a publisher from Melbourne, a forgien news correspondent from Germany and a photographer from New York.

Together we drank glass after glass of red wine and had a wonderful night.

The girls I met at the bar were angels to me and they spent the next 4 days showering me in attention and friendliness which is good when your host is a corporate lawyer with little or no free time.

Bianca even asked me to do a photo shoot, Palma took me to the Christmas markets, Mags engaged me in good old aussie conversation. It was an unforgettable week.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Back in Berlin

Berlin has always been my favourite city in Europe. Maybe it is unfair to say that (to the rest of Europe that is) but it is a city synonymous with fun and I have always loved the feeling you get when you are there that you are literally watching and apart of something growing.

Once when I was there I counted 20 cranes in a single photograph. I love cranes. Sometimes I wish I was one and at other times I feel like I am one, especially when travelling alone and watching life at a distance.

Cranes are Berlin to me, though this time when I was there I did not spot any, I am sure they are still there, somewhere, I just wasn't looking.

My European brother Goetz picked me up at the airport. I loved seeing his 6 foot 5 frame smile at me from the gate. He picked my bag up like it was a feather.

We walked towards the car and I did what I have done every time he has picked me up at the airport... I went to sit in the drivers seat by mistake, he motioned the keys towards me and together we laughed ... he had got me again and this time I was travelling there from Europe.

The air was cold on my cheeks and made my nose go red. I watched as little puffs of white air escaped everytime I breathed. We talked the way two people do when they have not seen each other in 5 years, sentences poured out that were rarely finished.

Goetz drove quickly to an amazing apartment in Kliespark, an abundance of light and space straight from a magazine greeted me when we turned the key. It was mine to house sit whilst my European sister Linda's travelled around Pakistan.

Afterwards at my request we went straight to my favourite bar (maybe in the whole world), The Slumberland near nollendorf platz, a bar where the entire floor is covered in sand, the walls are lined with kitch pictures of Jamaicans and Africans with afros doing 1950's and 60's hair commercials.

The girl behind the bar gave me a double take, it was Dianna the same bar tended from 2001 (actually she has worked there for 13 years), she almost jumped over the bar and gave me a massive hug and kiss. Welcome home and what are you having was all she had to say.

Tired from a early start to the day I planned just a quiet drink or two, soon the bar began to fill with more old friends and before I knew it I was being shouted drinks from all corners. 3 am came and went and somehow I managed to slide of my chair, avoid the sand pit and stumble home.

I love the fact that Berlin is the land of the late drinkers and rather large beers.

The next night we went to a club called 'tobe', we met in Krutzberg and headed to the mitte (pronounced Mitter.. it is East Berlin) where the air was kinda hazy and the music was bob Marley, reggae and dance hall.

After drinking countless vodka shots followed with becks chasers it was not too long until KP was dancing like no one was watching.

I noticed that people dance differently in Europe, it is something I have thought before but could never put my finger on... I think that people use their lower halves more... if that make sense?

To be continued.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Old friends reunite

KP & Lisa
Originally uploaded by kathrynparry41.
After spending almost every cent I have in Barcelona at the best shoe sale in the history of shoe sales, I was back in Paris, this time with my bags much heavier (ok so if truth be told I had to buy another one for the shoes). In fact at check in my bags set a new record and my back pack is a staggering (yes I actually stagger when wearing it) 25 kilos.

I have become so used to the load that I only wince a little bit when putting it on.

Back in the comfort of St Sulpice, which I found out is one of Paris' best addresses I watched Rachel's comic surprise when unloading my shoes... you brought that many she said, her tone part shocked part disbelief as I admit ed my indulgence, vanity and the like.

I have never really been a big shopper, my father would disagree but extravagance does not come easy for a girl who had holidays spending 3 and half months ruffing it in Asia, but they were all so beautiful I felt that it would be a crime not to take them home.

Afterwards, Rachel told me that when Sex in the City was filmed in Paris, our petite apartment was filmed in one of the street shots.... laden with more shoes that I care to admit, perhaps I was the real Carrie Bradshaw!

That night, Rachel arranged for us to met some of her friends from university, an intelligent Ivy League group with whom I debated American foreign policy and the recent US election results with, it felt more like a discussion from home and certainly nothing which I encounted on the back packing circuit.

We went to a little French bar, that was quaint and the perfect place to sample some vino, the wine was delicious and as we sat at the bar we watched out the window as a very handsome guy wearing a beret and carrying a baguette walked past (honest truth!!)... I felt the urge to run him down with my camera, the epitome of Frenchness to me but I stopped when I realised how agitated the French can get about things like that.

The next day, the weather was terrible, my plan to go running along the seine was cancelled when we stepped outside and felt the bitterly cold wind against our cheeks and the torrential rain on our heads, instead we went to the local market and fromagery and made soup and salad at home and laying in bed and reading the news.

That night we met up with Aurile another old house mate from Abercrombie Street, and went to a postcard perfect street in St Germain for some more wine, she was as beautiful and charming as I remembered and we caught up about old times living in redfern which seemed such a world away from my existence in Paris.

The next morning Lisa arrived from China and unable to sleep (I was too excited), I bounded out of bed at 5 am and set about getting ready to met her at a famous french cafe where Hemmingway used to hang out near St Germain.

I arrived at the cafe very early, the croissants still in the oven and was asked to come back a few hours later... I wandered Paris' dark back streets, illuminated by the moon and the odd street light and was happy to be alive.

When Lisa did rush into the cafe I was overjoyed. Matt (her lovely boyfriend/live in lover) looked very french in his kangol cap and together we set about seeing some sights. I played tour guide and together we walked every street in Paris, kilometre after kilometre until we were all so tired we felt like we would drop.

That night I met up with another old flatmate (are you sensing a trend.... 3 people I have lived with now all reside in St Germain... umm a coincidence or something more?). Dave took me to a great crepe shop and I indulged in goats cheese and salad (on a crepe) and good old fashioned nutella... makes my mouth water at the thought.

I was sad to leave Paris, my name sake city uncertain of when I would return but so happy to have had the chance to see so many old friends.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Note: KP goes International Photo taken in India.

I love Barcelona, it is as simple as that!

In 2001 when my Dad and I were there it was amazing and I have always wanted to go back a little wiser and sample some of the nightlife and the shopping.

I did both on this trip, and can't wait to go back again in summer.

Barcelona buzzes, it is an electric place full of vitality and dynamism.

I stayed in a backpackers hostel which was completely bizarre, in India I stayed mostly in hotels and homestays and the be back in a dorm felt like going back in time.

The hostel was very clean and funky and it was here that I met a group of 20 year old Australians who reminded me of me 5 years ago (ok 6), I felt so old in their presence that I nicknamed myself grandma.

It was interesting talking to them but not soulful (I can blame India for that line), they said things like

'I would never go anywhere by myself because then you wouldn't see as much' which forced silent indignation to rise within me and made me want to say.... wake up, but I didn't.

For most of the time, I just walked aimlessly around the old streets and tried to get lost and I decided not to take any photos but instead to start charcoal drawing.

It was fun getting my hands dirty (reminded me of Asia) and whilst I am no Picasso I just loved trying to be.

I know that whilst you can't be good at everything you can have a darn good time trying to be..

I will photograph my artworks and put them on flickr (as long as you promise not to laugh at how bad they are!)