Category Archives: Irresponsible Travel

Getting down in Royal town

What am I doing here? Rediscovering England

Vago Damitio. What am I doing here?
London, England
07 November 2012

Getting down in Royal townMy last time in England was so different than this time, that it feels like I was another person in a different country.  I can’t even understand how much everything has changed and the fact that I’ve pretty much been living in a small Moroccan town where donkey’s are considered effective transportation for farm goods and hot water is considered a luxury means that in the past five years, the modern world’s many changes have really slipped by me until now.

1998 Trip to LondonDon’t get me wrong – we have smart phones and DSL in Morocco and I’ve been traveling enough to see things are changing but this is the first time I’ve been in a major, English speaking city for nearly five years and let me tell you – I feel like Rip Van Winkle (who, by the way, was not one of the twins who tried to found Facebook).

Suddenly, I’ve emerged into a world of electronic billboards and smart phone video editing where you can book a ‘Megabus’ ticket online using your cell and make your purchases using a chip in the same phone. Maybe I should tell you about the last time I was here. Just to give you an idea of how long ago – there were no cheap digital cameras and I had film.  I could only afford three rolls while I was here and I have no idea what happened to the rest of my pics. Long gone in some used bookstore.

new friends with ShaniaThe year was 1998. Everyone was starting to talk about how the internet was  going to change the world but as a morning radio show producer, the most I’d seen was that we could get the best jokes from across the country for our morning show before anyone else had heard them.  The radio station sometimes let me use the station cell phones which were the size of my wife’s shoes.

I’d taken a break from radio and gone to Alaska where I got a job working on a film by one of my favorite directors, John Sayles.  It was a great opportunity but as the midnight sun shone down on the land of raging alcoholism, I made the mistake of telling everyone what I really thought of them. I finished up the film with a wad of cash in my pocket but no offer to be on the next one.
I went back home to Bellingham, Washington and found that my Grandmother had died. She was Scottish and so I decided to take a trip to England and Scotland – even though it was October.  Arriving in England, I met up with my friend Danny  from the film (okay, actually he was the guy who started screwing the girl I was into and yet somehow we became friends anyway when he started screwing a girl someone else was into). Danny was a raging alcoholic too but had the benefit of coming from money so could support his drinking. Me? I was broke after about four days of London binge drinking and so I hitched out of London.

Along the road, an Irish Gypsy picked me up and offered me 20 GBP a day for busting up pavement driveways that he and his crew would then offer to replace for the English Middle Class.  After four days of living in the Caravan Gypsy Camp, I made my escape and jumped trains up into Scotland where I proceeded to tie my Grandmother’s scarves around the necks of marble busts of famous Scots or the beautiful alabastar necks of Scottish lasses.

Back to London, drunk, nearly suicidal and completely broke and I called Danny whose mom happened to be a casting director and offered me a job as her assistant since I was an aspiring script writer and had worked with Dan in Alaska. The Model Party in SohoThis was where it got fun since at this point, Dan and I were running around doing what high rolling film people do in London – getting wasted on high powered stuff and having a blast with beautiful women and famous dudes.
So much of this is just a blur that it’s not fair to tell any of the stories, but suffice to say, you’ve heard of these people and you know what they look like and I can tell you,  they know how to party.  Unfortunately, I was always a bit of a terrible partier and the booze started to make me suicidal so between long walks around London, spending time in the museums, and doing my job – I began to get incredibly depressed. One morning I listened to two English guys who had just gotten wife-shoe size mobiles and were texting each other on a double-decker bus while comparing the sizes of their Thai bought gold chains (Yeah, if you’ve read Douchebags, Fags, and Hags – those guys were the genesis of Bob and Bing).

1998, my little bit of sight seeing. This was a film cameraEventually, and believe me, I’ve kicked myself for it again and again – I left what probably could have been a very nice career and instead went back to Washington where I founded a magazine that failed after a year and ended up working for a dot-com.

When I was here in London last – there were still the old double decker buses, the London Eye didn’t exist, cell phones were just starting to become mainstream, the internet was pretty well misunderstood, there was no Facebook, no Google, no WordPress, no Twitter, and no bloggers.  London was the first place I came outside of North America and it was exotic and wonderful.

London 1012Today, it is still exotic and wonderful but that may be because I live in a place where I never smell bacon and can’t walk into a pub and drink a pint of beer without worrying what my breath will smell like later as I am jammed into a grand taxi with six other people.

My impressions of London, thus far are that it is the world’s largest and most impressive amusement park.  The London Eye, the boat tours, the free museums, the exhibitions, the food, the restaurants, the gift shops, the wax museums, the Queen, the other English characters – it’s all really quite wonderful. It’s also expensive, but I’m happy to report that I’m not checking payphones for spare change as I was the last time I was here – which is very good because there are far less payphones and probably much less spare change in them.

must recover with playstaionAs to my friend Dan – well, I can’t say I blame him for not getting back in touch with me. I dropped by his office and left one of my cards but he wasn’t in. I can imagine his thought is something along the lines of “Oh, shit, not that guy! I don’t want to be reminded of those days!” Although, I’m not sure he would have remembered me 15 days later, let alone 15 years.

 

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Vagobond Travel Museum – More European Wanderings

To be honest, my first taste of European wandering had really whet my appetite.  Don’t get me wrong, I was in love with my betrothed (whom I’d met in Morocco shortly after beginning my journey) and when I was offered a job as a kayak guide in Alaska, I opted to take it for a couple reasons – first of all, I had to go to the USA to get the paperwork I would need for marriage, second – I really needed to consider whether it was the right move to marry and I needed space to do that, and third – I saw it as a chance to wander around Europe a bit more without telling my fiance something like ‘Hey, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you…but not until I’ve had the chance to wander around Europe a bit more,” which, I already knew she wouldn’t take well.  The irony of the fact that I had used a bogus kayak job to escape from an ill-conceived plan of marriage in the Philippines back in 2003 wasn’t lost on me. I wondered if I was doing the same thing or having the universe play a prank on me.

In fact, it was a bit of a dirty trick the universe played because just after I’d spent nearly all of my money to purchase the tickets to get me to North America and back – my friend contacted me and told me they’d hired someone else. I considered my options, kept that news to myself, and set out on the Fools journey. It seemed like the best option since I wasn’t sure that my fiance would understand going without a job waiting.

In any event, I left Morocco again,  flew intoMadrid before heading to Frankfurt, Germany then to Dublin. From Dublin, I flew to Canada where I hitched across the country with about $2, found work in the USA, flew back to Dublin, then went to Belgium and from there back to Morocco.  I really was trying to do things in an economic way, but I managed to squeeze in a bit of travel. These are the European stops I wrote about.

During this time, I was also delving into Tarot Philosophy and so I include the posts I wrote about that here as well…as you’ll see, by the time I got back to Morocco, I was exhausted, sick, and ready to move into a different kind of life.

The Fools Journey

Fool Encounters Magician

Madrid - The Worst Couchsurfing Experience in the World

Frankfurt - Arrival at a Spaceport

Frankfurt – From Goethe’s Tower to the Beer Bike

Dublin for $82 – Lesbians, Guinness, and Vikings plus Gary Coleman

Breakfast in Quebec, Lunch in New Jersey, Dinner on a plane, Breakfast in Ireland

Wicklow and Glendalough – Old English Ladies, the Loch Ness Monster, and St. Kevin

Howth, Seals, Kelpies, a bowl of Chowder, and a 2500 year old Princess

Cement Yourself Into Brussels and Other Belgian Oddities

A Camera Whodunit. The Green Mohawk or the Old Man?

Laundry in Ghent – Plus Torture and the Best Wallpaper in the World

Coffee in Luxembourg – Overcoming Travel Ennui

Charleroi - I am the Vector for Swine Flu

Quick Update From Morocco with Love

dogs in Istanbul snow

Vagobond Travel Museum – Week of February 3, 2012

Welcome to the Vagobond Travel Museum.

The web is full of great travel blogs, travel stories, travel photos and travel videos – the hard part is finding them amidst all the garbage. Through the week, I curate the best travel stories I find at Vagobond Travel Media and then each Friday, I bring you the highlights here at the Vagobond Travel Museum. To let me know about a great story either contact me on G+, Email me, or simply use the Twitter or G+ hashtag  #travelmuseum

These are my Travel Museum Inductions for the first week of February 2012.

One of my favorite ongoing travel sagas is this ultra long distance cycle trip from The Telegraph. Matt McDonald and Andy Madeley, wander into a Turkish den of iniquity and secure visa entry to Iran on their 13,000-mile trip to Sydney.

 

 

 This  incredibly beautiful post from pxleyes made me long for waterfalls in Hawaii and elsewhere. I’ve been to about 20 of these 50 amazing falls…what about you?

 

 

 

The Guardian also continues to hit travel with an often missing these days journalistic eye. This wonderful piece about Japan from the point of view of a salaryman goes way beyond some blogger getting drunk in a hostel. Kuzuhara-san leads Chris Michael on a tour of the hidden Tokyo where an army of office workers get to let off steam at the end of the day. Awesome read.

 

 

In video this week, it was the excavation of this giant ant hill that captured me more than anything else.  Believe it or not, this video inspired controversy as rumors were spread that it killed several billion ants…in fact, it was abandoned and not the lost city of Atlantis, though it looked like it might have been.

Okay, back to the non-journalistic exploits of teens and twenty somethings put out on the internet in a show of exhibitionism…let’s have a go at sex on the road! This very funny and incredibly presented tidbit from Finding the Universe is a very worthy induction into the travel museum. Enjoy sex on the road! Why don’t we do it, on the ro-oooad!

 

 

This post about Hemingway and Idaho from the slightly disturbingly named Bulls and Beavers is a reminder that sometimes great travel pieces come from unexpected places. Bulls and Beavers is all about hunting and fishing.

 

 

 

Travel Wire Asia brought some pretty good information to the table this week in this aptly titled piece 5 Great Travel Myths. Surprise, leaving your mobile on won’t crash the plane and people in Korea probably don’t speak English.

 

 

 

I love this image from Hoopoe Safaris. I’ve never been on one of their trips, but the picture just made me wonder if they just went down to the hood and put some brothers in native garb. The looks on those guys faces and the colors for some reason put me in mind of Oaktown instead of EAst Africa, but seriously, the safaris do look amazing.

 

 

This older post from Uncornered Market about how to travel outside of your comfort zone is really a great one for those who want to get the most out of their travels. The piece has been around for a while, but since this was the first time I’ve seen it – it gets brought into the Travel Museum. Great advice.

 

 

And while there were plenty of other great travel stories this week – that’s it for this weeks inductions into the Vagobond Travel Museum. To let me know about any great travel pieces, contact me at Vagobond Travel Media (where you can see lots more great stories that I curated this week) or using the contact form here at Vagobond.com