Apologies in advance, but I’m going to be like one of those really annoying people who post an awesome picture with the caption from where you’d rather be. But in all seriousness, I’m sitting on a stripy deck chair in Green Park overlooking Buckingham Palace on a beautiful sunny day in London…I AM WHERE YOU’D RATHER BE BITCHEZ! That’s right kids, it’s Euro Trip – Take Two. But this time, there will be a little less alcohol and where the fuck am I? moments (or who the fuck are you? moments) and a little more fine wine, and actually seeing shit. I’m also not going it alone this time. I’m travelling with my mummy, which will be an amazing mother-daughter bonding experience blah blah blah.
I’m super excited to be back in Europe again, but particularly I’m stoked to be getting a second chance to do all the things that I a) didn’t have time or b) didn’t have enough moolah to do last time I was here. And after mastering the whole independent lady, travelling on ma own thang, I’m surprised by just how bloody brilliant it is to have a travel buddy this time, even if she is carting around an old teddy named ‘floppy’ and taking pictures of it with everything/anything/anyone for a Facebook album titled ‘floppy’s adventures’. And while we’re on the topic of facey, I’ve also been asked, is there wifi here? literally every 5 seconds…I swear oldies are more addicted and dependant on social media than we are! Mum and I are very similar in many ways, one of which is our ability to sniff out and spot a good looking male anywhere, at anytime. We’ve enjoyed the talent here in London immensely, and have found joy in observing specimens from every demographic – indie, under twenty five in a suit (my personal fave, Harvey Spector anyone?), metrosexuals, rough and rugged lad, and of course, DILF or silver fox. I really do regret teaching my mum about the term silver fox, because ever since, she has proceeded to say very loudly, ‘look, there’s a silver fox!’ whenever one of the glorious creatures walks past. What she doesn’t understand is that “silver fox” isn’t a special secret code that only her and I know about. The obsession has reached such a dangerous level that it possessed her to actually interrupt a man during his dinner at a restaurant, and ask him to have a photo because he was such a major silver fox. Mum said later that was a mistake though, coz when he opened his mouth he had a terrible sounding accent and a few teeth missing…so disappointing!
Aside from these few infuriating yet endearing qualities, I’m having the best time being the expert (but really, when am I ever not?) and showing her the town, and honestly, there are some things that you just simply cannot do when you’re on your lonesome. For example, it’s nice to not have to park my ass down at a pub for dinner and have to go through the humiliation and intense shame that comes from having to explain to a waiter that yes, it’s just me tonight thanks…wanker. Yesterday, mum and I made London our bitch. London Eye? TICK! Big Ben? TICK! Westminster Abby, Madame Tussaud’s, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park? TICK, TICK, TICK and MUTHA FUCKING TICK! But unfortunately come day three, my poor mother has been struck down with a bit of travel tummy trouble, which I suspect she picked up from either pashing the Daniel Craig wax figure at Madame Tussuad’s, or from cuddling that bloody bear that’s been sluzzing it up all around London. After a bit of a panicked scramble, and a trip to the hospital, mum is now doing fine and is on the mend! This experience got me thinking about all the times when things haven’t gone quite right when I’ve been overseas in the last couple of years. And then I thought it might be entertaining for people to read and have a good old laff about my misfortunes, which at the time were cringe worthy and horrifying, but now are hilarious and fond memories.
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when I think ‘bad travel experiences’ is a little tale that I like to call balls out in Budapest. It was pissing down with rain, and I got off a five hour bus trip from Vienna at the bus terminal in Budapest, which happened to be in what felt like, at the time, the middle of nowhere. In attempt to stay dry, find out where the hell I needed to go, and haul around a twenty five kg suitcase with only one wheel, I found myself taking shelter under an overpass, which also doubled as a car park. It was very quiet as the place was practically deserted, so my ears pricked up when I heard the sound of crunching gravel behind me. I turned around to see a middle aged, fanny pack wearing man about one hundred metres away. Apart from the fact that he was probably the seediest man I have ever seen in my entire life, the creepiest part was that he was starring straight at me. I turned back around and tried to convince myself that I wasn’t about to be kidnapped and sold as a sex slave, but it was pretty hard to do considering that when I turned around to have another look, the man was now fifty metres away and closing in. Coz he was closer, I was able to get a better look at him, and that’s when I realised that the black bum bag around his waist was most definitely not a bum bag. It was a detachable codpiece of some description. And that hot dog he was holding in his hands was most definitely not a hot dog. It was his dick. And he was waving it furiously at me. Safe to say I have never run so fast in my entire life. Pretty sure whipping your cock out at females is the done thing in Europe, coz a few months later, some gals and I were walking to the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, and my friend said in her beautiful Surrey accent, ‘wow that man is wearing very short shorts!’ There would have been nothing out of the ordinary about an old man in Italy wearing a pair of hotpants, except for the fact that he wasn’t wearing any hot pants at all.
I’m sure almost every traveller has a story about how they missed that flight, or caught the wrong train. Mine happened in Belgrade, Serbia, when I misread the twenty four hour time on my plane ticket, and rocked up to the airport like a right tosser wondering why I couldn’t check in to my flight two hours after it had already left the airport. Two hundred and fifty euro and one very uncomfortable night’s lack of sleep on an airport bench later, I arrived in Istanbul, only to be greeted by the Istanbul bus terminal, which can only be described as a ghetto zoo on crack. Think goats and dogs running wild, people pushing and shoving with bails of hay and bags of flour on their heads, and taxis and cars driving in whatever direction they bloody well feel like. I was immediately approached by a man who insisted on helping me find a bus ticket to my next destination – Fethiye, for a Turkey sailing cruise. Only problem was that, of course, every bus to Fethiye was full. I managed to squeeze onto one leaving that night, which got me into Fethiye literally hours before my tour started. A few other scary things about this experience: I had to leave my luggage in a random room which was so hard to find again when it came time to collect it that I honestly thought it was lost forever. The Internet café was five levels below the bus terminal in an abandoned car park, and the man who ran it offered me a cup of Turkish tea, which I did not drink for fear of being date raped. And then when it was time to actually leave and get on the bus, I’d compare trying to find my bus to being in the mosh at a One Direction concert, which in normal circumstances I would thoroughly enjoy, but in this instance, it was pure chaos. I had to go back to the service counter, whip ma ranga hair back and forth, and plead with the guy behind the counter to escort me personally to the bus. Gets em everytime #rangalyf.
Three years ago, I went to Otavolo, Ecuador on a two month volunteer teaching trip. Being a typical naive eighteen year old fresh out of school, I skimmed over the part which outlined how we would be teaching the children in Spanish, and therefore rocked up on the doorstep of my host family knowing shit all Spanish, except for Hola, which I couldn’t even manage to choke out coz I was such a fraidy cat! I burst into tears, and embarrassed myself in front of all the other volunteers, who were there as a part of their international studies or hispanic studies degrees coz they’re really academic and are going to one day change the world, or something. But I guess it was fine coz I’d already embarrassed myself earlier that week by being the only volunteer to pass out off of a stool in the middle of our briefing meeting due to the high altitude. Despite being a complete pleb, I managed to learn how to string a few sentences together (literally everything was muy bien) and actually made some friends. A group of us decided to take an eight hour bus trip to Baños for the weekend to do some adventure activities, like White Water Rafting and Canyoning. Another thing we did was rent two go cart buggies, and drive around the town, which was great fun until my buggy broke down, and the others kept driving coz no one noticed I wasn’t there anymore. If that wasn’t soul crushing enough, I had to get towed all the way back to the hostel, and then when the owner found out that I’d broken the buggy, he demanded I had to pay to get it fixed. So naturally, we legged it and tried to hide in our hostel room. The owner found us and almost banged the door down until I emerged and played the tried and tested card of ‘no hablo espanol’…sucker.
And finally, to celebrate the fact that today is ma birthday, I’d like to take a moment to reminisce about the last time I had a birthday overseas. At the ripe and glorious age of nineteen, I went with some friends that I hardly knew on an extreme Prague Pubcrawl, and proceeded to drink about two litres of power hour free wine – which may have actually been paint stripper, and downed a red headed slut shot. Nek minit, I woke up naked in my hostel room bunk, thank god with the sheet covering me. I instinctively turned over to check that I still had all the essentials such as my wallet and iPhone etc, and opened my handbag only to find that it, as well as all of my belongings, was covered in a puddle of orange vomit. Happy Birthday to me