I didn’t sleep last night either. Beginning to see Tyler Durdun. But then I did watch Ocean’s Thirteen yesterday. The lack of sleep has not helped my general disposition. I do have to take my YouTube vids down, I’ve got no choice in the matter. Sorry. The option is a one way ticket to Palookaville, and I’ve already been stuck there for six weeks AND I DIDN’T LIKE IT.
I’ll throw up some footage of Stan and I being manic and hilarious around Europe last year instead. At least I own that mini masterpiece.
So not a good start to the day. Compounded by the fact that I rose at 6am ready to get off the ship (we docked in Rotterdam at 5:45am) and found myself pacing up and down on deck until the shipping agent finally rocked up about 8.30am.
Missing my 8.50am train to Calais means that I’ll miss my ferry across the Channel and therefore my train back home to Liverpool.
This is all conspiring to make a bad day even worse.
As if to add insult to injury, I’m now sitting on a train with a bunch of French kids who have no volume control (and this is coming from Foghorn Freddy over here) and, I’ve got to be honest about this, their ridiculous singy-songy flob of an accent is driving me UP THE WALL. Sorry, there are some accents that make my skin crawl and I’m afraid loud obnoxious French is one of them. The same thing happens when I hear guttural Scouse, dumb Texan and broad Brum so don’t go accusing me of being a Francophobe. Viva La France! OO. LA. LA.
I don’t care much for German or Israeli accents for that matter – they sound like someone hacking up. Or Thai – I hate they way they elongate the last letter of the last word in every sentence. And New Yorkers with all that talking through their nose crap – oh yeah, count Sydneysiders in with that group. And Northern Irish – sounds like real Irish sifted through a babelfish of whiny malcontent. Camp Manc drives me up the wall as well. As for the Welsh… Look. I didn’t set out to be an accent Nazi, but I’m not in the best of moods today. Go away.
I quite like Scottish.
Okeily Dokeily. As expected, I missed my Calais-Dover ferry connection by the skin of my teeth, so I’m going to be an hour and a half late getting into Liverpool – which means I’ll have to wolf down my dinner like an shoeless orphan at Christmas before Kimos – the best eatery in Liverpool (listen up Lonely Planet, I know you’re watching) – closes at 11pm.
But to hell with it! I got the next ferry and now I’m zooming through the GLORIOUS English countryside (it may as well be humming ‘Jerusalem’) as the sun sets in a cloudless spring evening over the brilliantly hued fields of canola. It’s not too hot, it’s not to cold, it’s just right.
Wow. I was a bit wrapped up in myself earlier to think about this, but dagnamit, I’ve just travelled through more countries in FIVE HOURS – (Netherlands, Belgium, France and England) as I did in FIVE WEEKS in the midst of all that Cuba malarkey.
[Which you have now been denied the inside scoop on. Sorry. AND MY FOOTAGE OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE BLASTING OFF WAS AMAZING!!!!! Graham – leave it. Leeeeeeave it].
Oh well, the thing is that barring some major disaster, I’ll be back in dear old Liverpool in just a handful of hours. To me, home is wherever I hand my hat, but something will always draw me back to that crazy cacophony of a city that sprung me on an unsuspecting world back in the late seventies. And you know, it’s done a grand job of keeping my flighty mind entertained these past thirty years. There’s nowhere in the world I wouldn’t visit, but there are very few places I would live. So far Liverpool, Melbourne and New York is as far as the list goes, so I guess it’s a pretty special place.
And I’ll be there in just over three hours.
My friends and family are coming to the station to meet me and the next few days may be some of the craziest of my life. I’m going to attempt to get around the Five Nations of Britain and Ireland in just 17 and a half hours. Without flying, of course. The inaugural Five Nations Pub Crawl Odyssey is about to begin.
Here goes nothin’………………
A day which, upon reflection, was as perfect an ‘Odyssey’ day as I can imagine. I arrived in Brussels in the wee small hours, just in time to catch the first train to Luxembourg. Do you want me to tell you something interesting about Brussels? Well bah! I’m not going to, I can’t, there isn’t anything. But my inter-rail pass kicked into gear and I plan to spend what it cost in the first 48 hours.
As the greatest man ever once said, Time Is Relative, that is, time runs at different speeds for different people (usually depending on the force of gravity, but bear with me). Time for me has now slowed down to a crawl. Getting just a few hours of sleep a day will do that to you. The days seem endless and night is just an obstacle to be overcome, there are miles to be had, miles to be done, miles before home. And Europe runs like clockwork.
I arrived in Luxembourg before I usually get out of bed and with nowt else to do but hop on the next available train to Hamburg, that’s what I did. Luxembourg I’m sure is lovely, but a this point, it’s not even a pit-stop. This is what I always envisaged the Odyssey to be, a non-stop race around the world. The Caribbean threw a spanner the size of Gibraltar in those works, but seriously, if I don’t visit Europe (and three African countries) in under three weeks, I’ll eat my hat.
So the sky was blue and the train was fast and before I knew it, I was stuffing my face with a hamburger in Hamburg. But that was not the end of today’s adventure, I had barely wiped the grease from my face before I was on a train heading for Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark – all in less than 24 hours. That’s what the Odyssey is all about.
The driver of the Danish train let me go in his cab and watch the sun set as we crossed the bridge from the island of Lolland to the island of Zealand (as in ‘New’). I never wanted to be a train driver (I want to be an astronaut!), but there is something marvellously appealing about pushing a lever and the train taking itself wherever the tracks dictate. It’s easy, comforting, the tracks don’t lie – they don’t swerve in front of you, they don’t pull out without looking, they don’t sit behind you and flash their lights because 90mph is just too slow, they just take you where you need to be.
But it’s not playing life on the hardest difficulty setting. I’d rather have a rocket booster attached to my back and be blown into the wild starry night on a wing and a prayer. Or at least some complicated mathematical equations. But that’s just me. Fortune favours the brave.
I split the train in Copenhagen central. There I met Christian, my Danish cousin – the bloke responsible for getting my ass across the Atlantic this month. He treated me to a beer (I should really have treated him, but he was quite insistent!) before we headed over to my Auntie and Uncle’s house to watch the end(s) of Meet Joe Black and to check out the times for tomorrow’s trains. I didn’t get to bed until after 2am, but I’m beginning to believe that sleep is just an illusion and real men don’t eat quiche. All right?
December 25, 2011 by Graham
Filed under Albania, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, England, Featured, France, Hungary, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, The Netherlands
In the summer of 2007, myself and Stanley “Stan” Stanrydt, two grown men with the mentality of 13 year olds, set out on an epic journey across the heart of Europe in search of music, beer, broads and a decent sausage.
In a Mazda sportscar we christened ‘Traci Lords’ (she was underage but could still squeeze us both in), we shot through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Croatia in order to arrive in Novi Sad, Serbia, for the rather epic Exit Music Festival, held in an ancient fort on the Danube river. There we watched the likes of the Beastie Boys and many other bands that I vaguely don’t remember.
After four days of drunken debauchery, we sobered up and decided to take the long way round back to the UK. So we went to Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dubrovnik in Croatia, rattled through Montenegro, got scared by the scary road in Albania, opted to take Traci out for a spin around the streets of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, before dripping our toes in Macedonia, skirting the city of Sofia in Bulgaria and crossed back over the Danube into Romania.
After a spooky trip around Bran castle in Transylvania (where Dracula was supposed to have lived), we thundered hell for leather back to Liverpool via Hungary, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France. A music festival and about twenty countries visited for no good reason other than we could? Now that’s MY idea of a holiday!!