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Ahoy! Nautical News and the Power of Suggestion

5 May

I have some exciting news for you today. That is, exciting to almost everyone who is me. I have, with almost no assistance, booked the first of my summer travels! “Hooray!” I can hear almost no one screaming. But if you’re interested, I’ve booked a trip to sail the southern coast of Turkey for a week before quickly making my way to Istanbul to fly back to “sunny” London.

One thing travel has taught me though is that a life spent in denial of the real world throws up endless choices. For example, a pressing concern of mine at the moment is whether to purchase this outfit for sailing Turkey:

Too “village people”?

Or this:

Not “village people” enough? Commands more respect though.

And just when I was about to curl up on the floor from the agony of deciding, I found this as well:

“Aaaarrr, I spy a beach party off the starboard bow. Let’s Shanghai us some Bacardi Breezers.”

Never mind, I’ll consult my Ouija board. My next dilemma is also related to an abundance of choice. You see, when you live in Australia you’re kind of isolated. So limited was my knowledge of the world that until recently I thought Ecuador was a really long, thin country that ran around the middle of the Earth.

In any case my eyes are now open to the world and are currently seeing, and planning to see, much of what it has to offer. The problem is that I am in the process of planning my summer and there are too many offerings. It’s not so hard when you’re in Australia. Given that you can be on a plane for four hours and still be in Australia, the choices for shorter holidays are slightly more limited (don’t get me wrong though, Australia is awesome).

If you haven’t already navigated away from this page in disgust thinking “that’s a pretty good problem to have, jerk”, I salute you. I may not have been so patient.

Anyway as problems go, I realise this one probably isn’t high on your “to solve” list. If in fact you even have a “to solve” list. That doesn’t make it any less of a problem for me though. So given that I know plenty of you have been to Europe at some point, I would love you to comment below with your favourite ever thing(s) to do there.

Whether you’re a loyal reader, disloyal reader, or in an “open relationship” with other blogs, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you do, I promise I will send you hearty “chunk duce” wherever you are in the world.

 

Safe travels and thanks for reading. J

Travel: You Wouldn’t Read About It

28 Apr

I’ve been interested in the power of words ever since the Beatles controversially claimed a gentleman had “feet down below his knees”. “Impossible!”, I exclaimed indignantly. But by the time Sir Paul had backed it up with “one and one and one is three”, I knew the word game was for me. And I don’t mean Scrabble, though I do find that quite enjoyable too. Another draw card was being able to dress like this:

Haven't used this picture in a while.

With this insatiable lust for good quality words that are also right put in order the, it’s no surprise my attention often turns to any available words to read. In this case it was the free “travel” magazine for your perusal on most flights these days. I use “travel” in the same way I refer to this blog because these magazines are usually about as relevant to actual travel as this is. Sometimes less so.

EasyJet has Traveller, AirAsia has Travel 3Sixty, and Jetstar has the imaginatively titled Jetstar MagazineCall them whatever you like, I call them brilliant marketing. For when is an audience more captive than on a plane? Possibly in a submarine, but my insiders tell me Branson has scheduled the launch of “Virgin Sub-Atlantic” for some time in 2016, and I can’t wait that long.

There is certainly no shame in reading, I do it all the time. The quality of “wordage” is good, the pictures are glossy, and you can always find at least 12 pages detailing the various routes that particular airline flies. Which is about as useful as this.

If you get bored looking at all the possible ways to get from one tourist hot spot to another, you can always spend a few moments reading the inevitable column written by the CEO of the airline. Or I could save you that time now (spoiler alert!):

“Wow, what a busy month it has been at (insert) Airlines. We have just launched a new route from (insert tourist hot spot) to (insert city where airline is based). We are also now flying from (insert party island) to (insert major city with cheap second/third airport). We now have more routes than ever before and carried 27% more passengers than last month, so there’s never been a better time to travel with (insert) Airlines….blah blah blah.”

You get the idea. I guess it isn’t really the CEO’s biggest concern to come up with new material every month. To be honest I’m happy as long as they keep their fares cheap and their marketing literature free.

Can I also take this opportunity to ask for suggestions on where to go for summer. After drawing up a list with far too many options that would require far too much money, I decided it’d be easier to ask someone else to do it. So if anyone out there has a suggestion for a “must do” this summer, please leave a comment below.

Safe travels. J

For Cycling and Seismographs: Flatness can be good

25 Apr

Unfortunately this past week has left me wondering if it’s possible to blow your nose so hard your skull comes out your nostril. Never fear casual readers, a mediocre “travel” blogger’s work continues even in the throes of illness.

Ever since I caught my first glimpse of the road race at the 1992 Olympics, I’ve been interested in cycling. It was an old TV and my memory isn’t what it once was, but I believe it looked something like this:

I believe the 1992 games were the last Olympics before compulsory mustaches were abolished, a great shame.

Fanatical readers will no doubt recall I recently rediscovered my love of human-powered transport by purchasing a possibly-stolen bicycle. At this point I’d like to profess my complete ignorance and say there’s no way to know for sure. My conscience is clean anyway.

As an added bonus, because I am now in the rigours of part-time employment I have also discovered the joys of bicycle commuting. By now surely at least one loyal reader is saying “bikes and commuting have been round at least as long as hipsters, why is this important enough to waste six minutes of my day?” Fair enough too, but as friends of mine will tell you, I only recently discovered the joys and warmth of wearing long pants instead of shorts all year round. So in perspective, this is a big deal for me.

This new found love with bicycle commuting has caused me to notice still more things, as us amateur “travel” journalists do. So without much more rambling, here is a list of reasons why cycling in London is the most awesomest thing since the wearable tent. Click the link, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

I realise I’ve been going on a bit lately and don’t want to break my six-minute pledge. If I do I promise I’ll treat the next homeless person I see to their very own wearable tent. Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. It’s cheap, like WAY cheap. As an example my commute to work today cost me exactly £0.00 (AUD $0.00). Please don’t point out the fact that I had to buy the bike in the first place, that would ruin it. But in the long run it’s very cheap.
  2. Despite the excessive motion in the area, you somehow sweat less from your crotch than when you’re on the tube. Reread earlier post for my other thoughts on the tube.
  3. You get to stave off “travelling expansion” with less risk of running in to gangsta bees, or at least a better chance of outrunning them.
  4. It frequently takes less time to cycle than to drive the 12 or so kilometres to my place of employment.
  5. London is a relatively flat city (ie. good for biking).

This last point caused me to consider the appropriateness of cycling in various cities. For example London is relatively flat, as are two of the world’s great bicycle cities: Copenhagen and Amsterdam. On the other hand Sydney is, for lack of bothering to find a better word, un-flat. I’m guessing that’s why as far as I’m aware, there is less of a bike culture in Sydney and even less of a lawn bowls culture. And don’t even think of trying to play snooker…

 

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

Travel lessons: what you can do without

1 Apr

Unless you’re the heir to an organic milk fortune, chances are you can relate to this post in some small way. That is because most of us have at some point had to live in a state of relative poverty. I mean relative to the usual high life of organic hazelnut frappucinos and faux-leather boat shoes, not the sort of living where Bob Geldoff won’t stop pestering you with offerings of blankets and malaria injections.

Whether because of moving out for the first time, going to university, or an unfortunately miss-timed investment in the trucker hat industry, we have all been forced to consider the question of what we can go without. Travelling overseas for an extended period of time is no different. Some might say the very ability to travel overseas makes this post somewhat of a farce, and they’re probably right. If this is you, I have no hard feelings if you want to use your mouse to navigate back to something more fulfilling. Otherwise, on with the farce post.

For instance, since coming to London I have discovered that I can go without a car, washing clothes after every wearing, novelty cuff links, and Nickelback. If I’m honest though, I did discover a while back that we can all do with a little less Chad. On a more serious note, I also can no longer afford to consider the moral implications of buying cage eggs instead of free-range. It tears me up every time I can assure you.

While this is admittedly a challenging situation, there are indeed some positives. For one, it is comforting to know that faced with the inevitable slump in the price of crocs futures, I will be able to ride out the hit to my portfolio with non-organic cherry tomatoes and mass-produced lager. People who know me will know how much it hurts to say that last part.

The point I guess is that it’s good to know you can live within your means if you need to. In other news: next weekend, while being a time of reflection and spirituality, also has the tendency to be one of the most boring on the calendar. So after reflecting, spiritualising, and checking to make sure Geldoff isn’t hiding in the bushes with a syringe again, I will either be attending a Championship football game, or watching the rowing between Oxford and Cambridge*. Either way I will no doubt have some hilarious anecdotes to share.

*Weather permitting. I have no intention of getting my tailor-made Vietnamese coat wet. If it does rain I will simply transcribe an episode of Two and a half men for your enjoyment.

 

Safe travels as always. J

“Stop the world, I’m getting off” – Ian Brown

26 Mar

I find starting any piece of writing with a quote has a few advantages. For one, it implies you’ve done some real research (I’m told this is something writers do). For another, it makes you sound deep and insightful. However telling you this quote comes from a Stone Roses song I just happened to be listening to will probably spoil this illusion a little. Live and learn.

Nevertheless now that I am a writer (in the sense that anyone/anything with thoughts and fingers can call themselves a writer), I intend to take full advantage of all the douchy cliches that come with the territory:

  1. Having a notebook I carry EVERYWHERE, just in case my vanilla latte inspires me to write the next Macbeth
  2. Sitting in a park to muse on the world
  3. Starting with quotes
  4. Dressing like this

I think I’ve been in London long enough to call myself a local. I say this because with much effort I now only emit a muffled titter when I hear: “this is a Picadilly line train to Cockfosters”, as opposed to convulsing on the floor with laughter. As such, and because I am now a purveyor of fine home-made words, I’ve started to notice things. The first is that left to natural selection, Pug dogs would almost certainly be extinct by now. The second is that London is THE place to congregate if you want to postpone life.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, that is why I’m here after all. Some of us just need a little time out. Cue excruciating analogy.

Think of life as a West End musical (if you want to be specific, Les Miserables has your perfect mix of romance, revolution, action and theft of candlesticks). While fantastic from start to end, Les Miserables (a tour de force, five stars – boiledblogsyndrome) is quite long. That is why you get ice-cream time, or “intermission” as it’s known in “the biz”. While some can, we can’t all be expected to sit through 3+ hours of only singing for dialogue. Just as not everyone can sit through their own lives without a bit of a break.

So I guess my analogy concludes with labeling London the theatre foyer of the world, where people come to enjoy their ice-cream before returning for the second half. It sort-of works. In other news I have booked flights to Hamburg for a few weeks time, so I will actually be able to bring you some travel stuff soon.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to continue work on Taming of the Brew: Hamlet becomes a barista.

Thanks for reading. J

Welcome: This is about travel, not puns…

18 Mar

…but any puns used are most certainly intended. First and foremost, I am writing this to keep record of my thoughts while I travel. Since anyone with a computer and access to an electrical supply can keep a web log these days, “why not me?” I said. So after plugging my computer in I set about thinking up titles that involved a pun on the word ‘blog’. After literally MINUTES of intermittent thought I came up with Boiled Blog Syndrome.

This is not only humourous, it is a metaphor for me (and some other people as well). You see, ‘boiled fr(bl)og syndrome’ is a phenomenon where a frog is placed in a pot of water. If the water is already hot, the frog jumps straight out. If the water is cool and gradually heated, the frog doesn’t realise and is boiled alive (please don’t try this, it’s just a flimsy pun that I used for my blog title). See dramatisation

In any case I, and others around me who I must thank, came to the conclusion that if you don’t get yourself out of your comfort zone and shake things up a bit, you can quickly lose precious time. I know everyone is different, and travel (or moving to the other side of the world) isn’t for everybody. But in my case, one day I realised that if I didn’t give my life a swift shot of wasabi, I knew exactly where I’d be in five, ten, twenty years time….and that scared the shit out of me.

This is my metaphorical soapbox for varying thoughts about travel, life in London, and who cares what else.

Thanks for reading, don’t take it too seriously. J