A Travellerspoint blog

5 People Always On The Tube

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1- The Suit.

Millions of them. Sure it's London I hear you say, but no, in this city these people are a different breed. Their hair looks 10% more coiffured than a suit outside London, the tailored suit looks more expensive than everything I own combined and they appear to have more new pairs of footwear than a premier league footballer.

2 - Loud Tourist.

You're off to see The Houses of Parliament, we get it. These people are the real reason everyone wears headphones on the Underground.

3 - Person Carrying Unreasonable Load.

I've actually seen a guy with a full length set of ladders get on at Holborn in the middle of the day. Dude, get a mate to give you a lift or something, cos you've just nearly taken a suits head off with those 15 foot steps.

4 - Drunk Chatty Twat.

It might be Tuesday afternoon but they have been drinking by the river since 10.30am and just want to be friends with everyone on the Jubilee line. DO NOT make direct eye contact and keep your headphones firmly on your head.

5 - Tablet Friend.

Sit next them, they have a small TV that you don't have to hold, simple. Nicking an earphone is generally a step too far but at least you might get to watch 15 minutes of Family Guy or The Big Bang Theory on your commute home. If they try and tilt the screen away from you then follow them with your head, make sure they know you're in this together.

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Posted by rj2v 06:27 Archived in England Tagged london england uk united kingdom underground tube londonlife londoncity Comments (0)

4 Months Living In London Has Taught Me...

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1) Londoners are actually friendly:

Some are. Common myth dispelled. People hold doors and say thank you. Who would have thought.

2) Londoners are definitely rude:

Some are. Recently at the train station a girl spilled her makeup all over my brand new suede shoes at 7.30am and laughed about it. I did not.

3) Commuting is fun:

Never ever thought I would say this, but it is. You get to be with people on the way to work which I think is pretty cool. Radio 1 is rubbish now Chris Moyles isn't on it, so why not be entertained by loud mouth people intent on telling the whole carriage about how their job is so stressful and nobody would understand how tired they are. Except you're on a packed train to Waterloo in morning rush hour, poor choice of crowd. Still, for me this is still better than sitting in traffic in your car, on your own.

4) Five quid won't get you a pint:

I grew up in Yorkshire, it was 99p a pint in my local village pub. I could quite easily be merry on a fiver. The first time I went to the bar with a tenner for two pints of lager I found myself fishing out some change to cover the exorbitant bill. You quickly realise that Wetherspoon's and the local off licence are your best friend, don't go to bars in Chelsea or Kensington that's just silly talk.

5) Tourists Suck

I was one. Most of us that live in London started out as one. But then you start working and living here and somewhere along the way you become a Londoner. You all of a sudden can spot these people a mile off. Pushing buttons on the tube, meandering around train stations looking at freshly printed tube maps (get an app for gods sake!) and worst of all being happy. Yeah that's right they irritate the crap out of me with their smiles and carefree days of stumbling around tube stations saying sorry to everyone. Day trippers, holiday makers and people that travel in for business who carry those stupid wheel cases, these people are the bane of my life. None of us want them here, making our days infinitely longer by gathering in large impassible groups to gaze up at The Shard and commenting how high it is. I'm aware of how high The Shard is, in fact I no longer give a crap what happens at The Shard or how good the architecture is. The only good thing about The Shard is that it blocks the sun on my walk to work keeping me a little bit cooler on a nice day. Nice work massive building.

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Posted by rj2v 12:39 Archived in England Tagged london england uk londonlife Comments (0)

Bratislava Bad Boys

Eastern Bloc. 1980's, communism, red flags, old hooded women with bread baskets, big walls and grey skies. Well that's exactly what it felt like on the bus ride from Bratislava airport into the main part of the city where we would be dropped off. One of the first things that became apparent was the amount of graffiti plastered everywhere in this city, if your arm could reach high enough then there was a slogan or picture and it didn't look like anyone was making any attempt to remove it. 'Bratislava Bad Boys' was a popular one, I later learned this was the local Football firm from Slovan Bratislava who are this biggest club in the country. Along with the grey and light pastel coloured council blocks reaching 20 to 30 stories high my first impressions weren't reigning in any preconceptions I may have had for what Slovakia might be like.

Thankfully first impressions aren't everything though and we decided to go for lunch and found a nice little cafe that was apparently a social community project. It was a coffee shop combined with a library and listening to the conversations from other tables the clientele appeared to be from all corners of the globe. I overheard a couple talking and the young guy was Filipino on a date with a local Slovakian girl, when a Filipino waitress started talking to him in English about how he had come to be over here. He'd met her on the internet and this was their first meeting in the flesh. The walls of my preconceptions were crumbling around me at the increasing cosmopolitan realisation of this city! Being so close to central Europe and a gateway to the east has probably helped but the exit from communist rule and the rise of globalisation has got it's teeth into this corner of Eastern Europe.

Later in the day we wandered into the old town and there was all that graffiti again, in this genuinely beautiful and significant part of town it was everywhere. It looked like Banksy and his mates might have been over here and had a skin full of the strong local 20p lager then got the spray paint out. Whether they had tried and failed in the past to clean it up I'm not sure, but it was a shame to see these fantastic old buildings covered in neon pink with some nineteen year old locals name tag on a 14th century door.

Our next few days were spent eating very cheap but for me surprisingly tasty and stodgy local dishes alongside a good few of those cheap beers. I liked Bratislava and I like countries that haven't been around very long. England is old, lots of old money, old fashioned people and old ways of thinking. Slovakia reminded me of Croatia in that people seem genuinely proud of their independence and having a country to call their own. It has a feel that the young people can shape the place for the future and have a real bearing on where it is heading. The old communist bread carriers are a dying breed and it I really got the feel that the young iPhone carrying generation of kids want to be part of modern day Europe. It's proximity to Vienna no doubt helps with progress but it is a place living in two eras but probably not for long!

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Posted by rj2v 12:15 Archived in Slovakia Tagged bratislava travel europe traveller travelling slovakia traveling Comments (0)

Let's all make a change in 2015

It's getting harder and harder to see the bigger picture of what is important in life.

As a race of people we are constantly being bombarded with advertising and marketing campaigns from the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, no matter it seems where we are in the world. To make it worse when the TV's and the radios are switched off we are all passing on the message of these enormous global corporations to each other via our phones or our big mouths! From the time you first look at your Facebook page sat in bed on a morning, to checking the news, to eating branded food products, to watching any sort of television the list is just endless of opportunities for companies to sell something to you.

Everything carries a message and the message to me doesn't seem a good one. We are telling each other that everyone needs to tow the line, that we should all look and feel the same, that being different in any way is wrong and should be looked down upon.

It's all down to big businesses. A very small amount of people want to keep us in check so that they can carry on earning exorbitant amounts of money from us in various disguised ways. In all honesty it's extremely unlikely that we know most of the worlds most powerful people as they hide on tiny private islands and behind a veil of shady corporations. These people are so powerful that they employ other slightly less hugely powerful people (President of the United States for example) to be their public puppets. Everything it seems is one big game. From starting the next war, to drip feeding us new technology to keeping the cost of fuel artificially high. It's money and very few people have a great deal of the stuff.

It's tiring to see but I'm trying to change my life to do something about it. I no longer buy newspapers for starters. Who cares what political standpoint they each have, they all preach a slightly different negative sermon along similar lines, following stories that generally don't matter and glossing over ones that do. News flits from one new war to another. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Eritrea or Afghanistan without generally seeing one from start to finish while all the while we see innocent civilians the casualties of these ridiculous conflicts. It's no surprise when you think about it. War means weapons and destruction, big business sell guns and own huge construction companies...oh and the oil that powers it all. I wrote my University thesis on this issue and 10 years later the issues are exactly the same and the conclusions are same. War is profit for a select few and these are the people that start them.

If it's not war we see on the news, then the only other stories deemed newsworthy appear to now be reality TV or film stars doing something they shouldn't be, promoting this lifestyle as something to aspire towards. Where are the stories of courage, of bravery and of positivity in the United Kingdom? They are pushed to a final segment slot or not even reported at all. Instead we are bombarded with fear of each other. Fear of not only ISIS or other so called terrorists but that we need the latest iPhone or the latest car, or that we need to buy a house because if we don't we will be destitute on the streets. We are being sold that if we don't have the latest technology that we are somehow inferior to our fellow man who does.

When I was young we had no games consoles or mobile phones to keep us entertained, a football and a patch of grass was enough. Yet I walk past parks and they seem empty these days, kids are at home sending selfies to their mates two streets away while others plan how they are going to get to Syria to fight for a cause they know nothing about. I feel bad for them, that this is the world that is being forced upon them and most won't even realise that there is more to life than electronic media.

I've personally taken the decision to stop listening. I search out and try to restrict my connectivity to the outside world and I'm much happier for it. When I read these days I don't go to the BBC news website I stick to books or independent magazines. I deleted Facebook from my phone, I don't have a twitter account and my Sky TV subscription has been cancelled. I want to engage with the world and people around me but I'd like to actually go out and speak to people in order to do this.

It's hard to break away but I'm trying. I try more and more to question what I buy, what I read, what I eat. Am I being another sheep in the flock or can I do something differently. 2015 is upon us and I'm going to try even harder this year. I wrote down the top five things that are important to me, here is what I came up with. My girlfriend, my family, my friends, travelling the world and being free. None of those are materialistic yet all of them require me engaging with people face to face. The internet is fantastic, social media is great but limit how much you engage with them, memories aren't made by playing Xbox. People and places make the world a great place so let's all try to move away from the computer and back out into the open air. I'm off to chuck some trainers on, what are you going to do?

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Posted by rj2v 06:26 Archived in England Tagged travel change travelblog 2015 Comments (0)

Cheese and Chocolate in Switzerland

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Swiss beer is not good.
Swiss chocolate is excellent.
Swiss airports are confusing.

Our plane touches down with a jerk in Switzerland...hang on in France...oh no wait Switzerland. Actually I've no idea where we are and neither does Fern. Our ticket says that we have flown to Basel Mulhouse airport which I reasonably assumed was in Switzerland because that's the country I wanted to fly to. Walking into the arrivals lounge a sign hangs from the ceiling, one pointing left towards France and the other right towards Switzerland. I get my phone out to check a regional map and see the airport is actually in Mulhouse which appears to be actually across the border.

We follow the sign pointing right and exit the airport, I glance back at the sign on the front of the building which states ‘Euroairport’ so I’m non the wiser as to our current location. A bus arrives and we pay in Swiss Francs to take us to our hotel. On the way I mull over the fact we wanted to simply fly from London to Basel. Instead however we have flown from London Stanstead which is actually not in London at all but an hour drive north in the county of Essex, to Basel Mulhouse which is actually not in Switzerland but in a different country called France.

The hotel in Basel is small but comfortable with no tea making facilities and as advertised on the website we have a flat screen TV. Yes it’s flat screen but its about 4 inches wide not to mention CNN news is the only English channel they have. I learn Barack Obama wants to pass a new law and there are terrorists out there, the giant flat screen doesn’t get turned on again and I’m gasping for a brew.

Our first few days are spent exploring Basel by walking and by trams which are absolutely everywhere. The hotel provides free tram tickets for the duration of our stay which is fantastic and getting around is spectacularly easy. It’s a small city on the banks of the Rhine river with a nice relaxed feel about it. We learn that the city actually borders not only France but Germany as well. In fact we visit a bridge called ‘3 Country Bridge’ just a 40 minute walk from our hotel where you can stand at a designated monument and see each country. You are standing in Switzerland with France on the other side of the bridge and slightly further down the banks of the river on the Swiss side you can see the German flags for the border of their territory.

Keen to get deeper into Switzerland we wake early the next morning and head to the station getting a commuter train packed with serious looking suits ninety minutes across the northern part of the country to Zurich. Having worked in finance for a number of years I was aware of the huge banking industry in the country and imagined an enormous business district of high rise corporate banking HQ’s. Yet no! Zurich again has a relaxed feel about it. The skyline is low, the buildings are generally old and beautiful, it’s absolutely nothing like I imagined. Zurich is also situated on the banks of stunning Lake Zurich and we take the opportunity to enjoy a cup of terrible weak tea by the water while enjoying a spot of people watching. Away to our right is the city, an autumn haze hangs over the buildings making it look like an old watercolour painting but more stunning still is the view away to our left with the alps peaking up into the clouds taking your breath with it.

We spend the rest of the day walking the city walks, drinking in the city bars, eating cheese, eating chocolate until both tired we finally return to our hotel after a warm train ride through the icy Swiss countryside. The following day in Basel is our last and it’s time to go back to the airport in France. Borders and boundaries in mainland Europe I’m realising can be blurred, you never quite know where one place ends and another begins.

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Posted by rj2v 06:41 Archived in Switzerland Tagged travel europe switzerland zurich basel travelblog Comments (0)

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