Monday, 22 August 2011

Travelling Without Moving

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and one of them is when people insist on telling you all the details of their fucking boring holiday.

So, I recently went InterRailing round Europe for 3 weeks with Steven and Simon (and Dan joined us for 1 week), and here's all the fucking boring details, city by city (don't worry, I'll keep it brief and stick to the fun parts, and include photos taken on the shit camera on my phone):

1. London: Yeah London counts as one of the cities we went to. Actually I should mention that the night before we left, I received a panicking phone call from Simon, who'd accidentally booked the ferry from Calais to Dover instead of the other way round. So, a promising start. And one that's indicative of just how late and hurriedly we'd organised this trip.

2. Paris: Very expensive, and I had to share a bed with Steven... but it wasn't all as fun as that. We went to the Père Lachaise Cemetery and saw the graves of Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and Jim Morisson. (I was disappointed that his didn't say 'Come on, come on, come on, come on, now touch me' on it.) We also saw the ashes of someone who is still alive!

We did all the other traditional Paris stuff, like the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and of course the new Harry Potter film. 'Wand' in French is 'Baguette', which improved the film greatly. I still hate that epilogue bit though, I do not want to see weird hybrid versions of the characters. The brilliant comedian Richard Herring tackles that bit brilliantly in his brilliant blog.

3. Milan: I started Caitlin Moran's 'How To Be A Woman' on the train, which is brilliant by the way, especially when sat next to a nun, as I was, which made the bits about abortion and porn and 'cunt' even more fun. We stayed in 'Hostel California', which isn't such a lovely place (such a lovely place). There were, however, Dalek bins:

On one night Simon discovered that his bed had been taken by a German guy, so he went to reception and told them: 'There's a man in my bed.' I wanted the response to be '...well done?' Here's a funny sign from the Milan metro:

4. Venice: On the first day there, it seemed that all of Venice was on strike. So we spent most of the time making bad amazing Gondola puns. ('What do you call a Gondola having a break? Gondolunch.' 'What do you call a grope on a Gondola? Fondola.' You see how the hours would just fly by.) The next day we explored Venice and it looks just like it does in Tomb Raider II, right down to all the dogs, which, unlike in Tomb Raider II, I didn't shoot.

5. Villach: We may have only spent 20 minutes in Austria waiting for our connection, but it counts. So from my experience, Austria looks like a train station.

6. Ljubljana: Which we eventually learnt to pronounce. We stayed in Hostel Dic which has a funny name and a bizarre, nightmarish logo:

And here's another strange Slovenian sign: (We think it means: 'No luring children in front of cars from their houses using balls.')

Yeah I pretty much exclusively took photos of signs that I found funny. Particularly this one, reminding us to stretch before exercising:

7. Zagreb: I don't remember the context in which it was said, but my journal entry for the first day in Zagreb opens with the quote: 'You can see in the dark, you're Jewish.' - Dan. The hostel had more exposed wiring than is perhaps desirable, and its picture on the website is of a baby. I never found out why. The Museum Of Broken Relationships was cool, full of random items which represent the broken relationships of their donors, all to the soundtrack of Radiohead's In Rainbows. Obviously. We met some nice Liverpudlian people, one of whom told us that in restaurants in Europe, when asked if they'd like anything else, they'd reply: 'Fine, ta.' And they'd be brought a Fanta. It was also hilarious whenever they said 'tickets', as any other listeners to The Trap Sodcasts would agree. Also, the bars had lovely, reassuring signs on their doors, such as this one:

8. Belgrade: Steven made loads of bad amazing animal puns in the zoo. ('The tigers are separated from the lions; It's aPURRtheid.' 'The polar bears are separated from the brown bears; It's aBEARtheid.' 'The male flamingos are seperated from the female flamingos; It's aFLAMINGOtheid.') The animals all seemed very unhappy in cages that were obviously much too small. But still, look, a tiger!

We saw the Palace of Serbia, which looks like a polytechnic. Think less Buckingham Palace and more University of East Anglia. But with more concrete. Belgrade is generally very cool, as is the Danube. As are scary signs:

9. Sofia: I hate night trains. They're uncomfortable to the point of genuine pain and you can never, ever sleep. On the one to Bulgaria, I went to the toilet at the start of the journey, and it looked like something you'd wake up chained to in a Saw film. I went again at the end of the journey, and it was full of blood. We enjoyed some English language errors on various menus, such as 'duck beast' and 'green peace.'

10. Varna: It turned out, as we arrived in the station to leave Sofia and saw a clock, that Bulgaria is in a different time zone. So we'd spent a whole day an hour behind. Also, on the way to Sofia, some English people asked us if Bulgaria is an hour ahead. 'No,' we assured them, with all the confidence of a bunch of idiots. Also I had to share a bed with Simon. But it was great to swim in the Black Sea, at which point we'd crossed Europe, like proper explorers! Then I bashed my leg on a rock and it bled.

11. Bucharest: The journey to Romania involved taking 2 'buses', one of which was a minibus and the other just a man. With a car. Even more reassuring was that he looked like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men.

12. Luton: What?

Overall, I'm amazed none of us died, given our impressive levels of utter incompetence and sheer cluelessness.

After a quick turnaround I headed to Edinburgh with Harry, where we saw 12 comedy shows in under 48 hours. Heaven. They were: Tony Law, Robin Ince and Michael Legge, The Gentleman's Review, Michael Legge, Tim Key, The Horne Section, Andrew J. Lederer, Tiernan Douieb, Simon Munnery, Tara Flynn, Josie Long, Richard Herring, and I recommend every single one of them.

I returned home to find England full of riots, and, worse, BBC headlines such as: 'Who are the rioters?' So, that's the news covered. As for TV, I started watching the BBC's The Hour, which is excellent, but whoever decided to market it as a 'British Mad Men' has clearly never watched Mad Men. It's more like Sports Night. Mad Men doesn't have chase sequences! What Mad Men has is people talking in brilliantly ambiguous and sparse language. While drinking whisky.

I've also just finished the first season of Lost. I know, I'm a bit behind. But it really is phenomenal. If you think that film, as a medium, is better than television, then watch Lost, because it shows how you can unravel a character deeply and fully, in a way that films never have time to. I'll stop talking about Lost now because I've been going on about it on Twitter, so look at that if you're interested which you're obviously not because of your busy robot lives, but one last thing about Lost: There were a disproportionate amount of attractive people on that plane. Or maybe that's actually what planes are like when you fly on airlines other than EasyJet.

Thanks for reading this catch-up blog, I'll leave you with an awesome version of the Jamiroquai song that it's named after. Enjoy!