December 2009


A sign I found on the web

Happy New Year to my sister (I will suffer for this)

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It’s that time of year again – the year is ending and everyone is writing lists, I wrote one in my last post, but I write many lists and they are usually travel related.

So I apologise for adding to the end of year madness and I leave you with this from one of my favourite, and in my humble opinion, one of the best TV programs ever made.

TOBY
What are you doing?
TABITHA
Crossing off the FDR Memorial, the Atrium, and the Folger Library. I like crossing off lists. It’s very satisfying. You like lists?
TOBY
Yes.
TABITHA
You like crossing things off?
TOBY
I’ll let you know if it happens.

The West Wing (The U.S. Poet Laureate) Toby Ziegler & Tabitha Fortis.

I wish all my readers (who celebrate at this time of year) a very Happy New Year and a travel filled 2010.

So with a few days left and very little else to do (except go to work) I’m thinking about travel – no surprises there!

I have been pretty tired recently (too much work and not enough sleep) – it must be affecting me as I found myself saying I would have a relaxing holiday next year – the thing is a few days later it is still on my mind.

I will be off to see my sister and her other half soon, to check out Turin and fall over on a ski slope. I have taken advantage of some sales and added a ski jacket and trousers and some decent gloves to the helmet I bought a few weeks ago. I do have gloves, but I don’t think leather leather driving gloves are going to be any good to me.

Passing over my impending injury on the Italian slopes I have been thinking ahead to other travel options this year.

  1. I would like to try will be doing some camping – probably in the Lake District, but the warmer southern coast is also an option (Somerset, Dorset and Devon) I will consult Cool Camping and more than likely do both.
  2. Europe – Baltic Coast (around Denmark, Germany and Poland)
  3. Europe – Spain, Southern France and Portugal, with a little trip over to Morocco.
  4. Europe – The Greek Islands, Crete, Cyprus that sort of thing, with a possible trip over to Turkey or the Middle East included.
  5. Europe(ish) – Adriatic Coast (Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania)
  6. Eastern Block – Around and near the Black Sea.
  7. Africa – Well, just Morocco,
  8. Long Haul – A couple of my colleagues have been to Thailand recently and reminded me how great it is – but this should be more Long Shot!

The barely sub zero temperatures and promised snow around the U.K. this week caused a little panic and if the few inches that fell this January return the country will again fall into chaos. While I awaited our fate I heard the snow was piling up in Turin (reports from my sister).

Now I hear the Channel Tunnel is crippled by the weather – an amazing failure of the system, 5 trains effected by rapid temperature change which caused an electrical failure.

With power failures and sporting postponements adding to the mix its a poor reflection on my countries ability to cope, obviously the French are to take some of the Channel Tunnel blame too.

So I now await the joys of next weeks weather, I have a drive back to the family pile for a few days over Christmas and until the the perilous morning commute. I have little fear over my own abilities on ice, but as most other drivers are less than capable I worry about them. I was close to having my front onside wing remodelled by small city car who lost control on a roundabout last January. I only mention this as my wonderful country seems unable to cope with any adverse conditions and lets be fair we don’t exactly get the extremes other countries experience.

Anyway – while the winter storms batter us, one airline folds (Fly Globe Span) and British Airway‘s staff attempt to ruin Christmas for millions and ruin their employers I will wish you all well for the season and hope that everyone gets where they need to be for Christmas (even if it isn’t where they really want to be).

I’m a member of the Matador Network, loads of great stories and pictures. One of the ones I read today got me thinking about the time I spent in Zagreb last year.

It was hot and I wasn’t feeling very well when I got off the train from Budapest, getting to the hostel I had been greeted by a very impatient woman behind the guest who had zero understanding of customer service. It wasn’t a good introduction to Zagreb and Croatia in general.

It was much later in the day before  I met some of my fellow travellers, a German and an American (unfortunately I can’t remember tier names and have lost some of my travel notes). there was the usual conversation, where are you from, going, and the other usual stories and jokes. Later the following day I was feeling a bit better and ran into the American guy again, he was heading out for a few drinks at a bar he knew of and I was invited, I agreed and we went down to watch Michael Phelps win yet another gold in Beijing.

While watching the inevitable I got chatting to another American guy, who knew the owner of one of my favourite record shops (Amoeba Music). He was of course invited to the bar too.

Sitting around a wooden picnic table outside a little shed like bar near the top of the funicular railway I was discovering a bit about a stereotypes, English stereo types. The German was shocked I didn’t like football and didn’t drink much (I don’t drink much normally these days and my current state of health was limiting that even more).

It was hard for the hard drinking football loving German to understand that English guy didn’t like football, it is a an unfortunate stereotype, drunken football fan and I hate it. I found I was surprised to be with two well travelled Americans and realised I was doing the same thing. I had a little laugh and decided not to do this again.

Now apart from trying to remove my countries stereotype, I’d like to say that everyone I met in that hostel (except the staff) were friendly and helpful. I hope I do not stereotype Croats in the future because of one experience and I hope anyone not from England reading this will not expect every English man to be a football fan, some of us like real sports!