What are ya doing Chad? – Travel up to March 2014

Hi Guys,

I figured I’d give you a bit of an update about what I’ve been up to these past couple of months.

I’m still volunteering at Lagan Backpackers Hostel here in Belfast. After 7 months of travel last year it has been great to be able to base myself in one place for the past 4 or so months. I mean it’s not exactly ideal – working 36+ hours a week in exchange for accommodation in a freezing cold bunk room and a super small stipend for food; however all the staff and guests here are pretty rad so it makes it much easier. Both Australia Day and Waitangi Day (New Zealand) were celebrated at the hostel with myself cooking up some chicken parmigianas for the staff, cranking the hottest 100 and my first attempt at making pavalova for Max, our Kiwi volunteer. There have been a stack of volunteers coming and going; three who are currently here have NEVER eaten a burrito in their lives – so we changed that this past tuesday. The Italian guy wasn’t impressed; but he’s never impressed unless its his own cooked pasta! haha.

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The art piece our resident kiwi Max painted in the dining room.
Singing by Francesco – Lagan’s token wacky Italian volunteer.
Unfortunately I’ve still been unable to find paid work here in Belfast. When I first arrived in Belfast I tried applying for jobs constantly for about a month and a half and realised that November-Feburary is pretty quiet everywhere and there’s not much work going around. I’ve been told by a number of people that community services funding does not come through until the end of March so youth work and refugee work positions should be offered in early April. That being said, I still aspire to get some work in a pub or coffee shop; something a bit different and not as intense as the work I do back home. Fortunately I’ve sorted out some more volunteer work at a really awesome non-profit coffee shop called Common Grounds around the corner from the hostel. I’m hoping to develop some barista skills while there which hopefully will give me more of a chance at some paid work.

Common Grounds - The coffee shop I'm volunteering at in Belfast.

Common Grounds – The coffee shop I’m volunteering at in Belfast.

In late January I made the trek all the way down to the south of Ireland to explore Cork where I’m fairly certain my family originated from generations ago. Cork is a really cool city; it’s Ireland, Ireland .. everything I expect from the country including crazy thick accents, rolling green hills and great local pubs with irish folk music. I made a day trip out to Blarney Castle to explore and kiss the Blarney stone; which apparently gives you the gift of the gab. Hopefully that means I’ll ace my job interviews when I finally get them! 😉

Kissing the Blarney Stone in  Blarney, Republic of Ireland.

Kissing the Blarney Stone in Blarney, Republic of Ireland.

At the end of March I flew over to Croatia & Slovenia to do a bit of snowboarding. I was able to meet up with Marusha, a buddy I made when travelling around Morocco last year. It was great seeing the sights around Zagreb for a couple of days (my highlight being the Museum of Broken Relationships haha!) and then trekking down to Maribor to stay with her family. We got a couple of days snowboarding in Rogla – it’s been over 4 years since my last time snowboarding so the majority of time I was either face first in the snow or constantly falling on my butt. I’m proud to say though that I had my first go on some jumps on the second day; this is despite Marusha claiming they were for little kids and wimps haha. Here’s a video of my attempt at using the snowboard jumps.

My next travel plans start on April 7th were I’ll be meeting up with one of my best mates from Adelaide, Mohammad.

We’re planning on spending 2 weeks travelling around Berlin, Prague and Krakow with the hope of couchsurfing around all of those cities. So far we’re staying with a buddist vegan punker in Berlin and a Polish couple in Warsaw who have a 3 year old and a baby (Mohammad gets very excited about babies!), and were still hoping to find a host in Prague. Then I’m back to working at Lagans mid April and trying to knuckle down to find some work again.

Having a token good looking Iraqi mate – the only reason we’re getting hosts on couchsurfing.

So that’s me; stay tuned for some posts on life in a hostel and a couple of posts about some countries I’ve visited so far.

Keep in touch with me on my facebook page or by commenting below.

Much love,

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