Home. Home cooking. Homemade. Homeward Bound. Homework. Homing signal. Home, home on the range. Home furnishings. Homosexual. Homosapian. Homophobic. Homeopathic. Homer Simpson. Home. I’m actually home.
Last week i was in Amsterdam which is the kind of place that you go to with expectations. Canals, cannabis, red lit women and dance floors spin through your mind before you get there and in front of your eyes once you arrive. It’s a city that felt almost anonymous or independent from anywhere else. As if it floats above the rest of the world promising to come back down soon but knowing it never will. Some call it a melting pot. I think it’s more like a blender. But all the human zoo of the red light district and surrounding bars is neatly confined to a few square kilometres near the central train station and the rest of the city is a maze of canals and old, big terraced buildings glinting in winter sunshine or European drizzle depending on your luck.
I met Matijs and Joost, two Dutch guys that i first met when i travelled in Mongolia a few years ago. We met up again and the three of us swapped stories, drank beers in different little bars bulging with people escaping the winter chill.
I left Amsterdam too quickly but i had a seat booked on a bus to Brussels which was driven by a big French man who had crap 1980s music blaring from the radio all the way to the Belgian capital. We glided across the Dutch landscape which is so flat you can almost make out the curvature of Earth as you look out of the window.
Brussels was a really pretty city full of grand old buildings covered in Christmas neon with the smell of chocolate wafting through the streets and the beer flowing not far behind in the cold evening air. The following morning i was zipping towards London on the Eurostar train wondering how and when it became normal to take a train that travels through a tunnel under the ocean linking two different countries.
I spent that night in Oxford where I met two old friends, Stu and Max. I hadn’t been in England for 18 months. Now, i wouldn’t want to add to the reputation that the English are all drunk idiots but you can probably guess what happened next. We played some drinking games in a pub and then I got so drunk that i vomited all over the streets of Oxford, fell asleep in the back of a car and woke up trying to piece together the previous twelve hours of my life without much success. Then we had a fried breakfast at lunchtime. Welcome back. The next evening i was in my home city of Leeds.
Europe has been immense fun but for the past few months i’ve felt like a stone skimming across the surface, seeing place after place, city after city only for the journey to end and being forced to plunge back into something familiar. England. It’s a country where almost 60% of its GDP is national debt. Where a light covering of snow brings the whole nation to a halt. A place where getting drunk or spending money are seen to solve all your problems. Where the politics is centred so firmly on the middle ground, you wonder how politicians are able to sit down properly with all the fence posts stuck up their arses. Where the majority is silent and everybody else seems utterly fixated with Celebrity X-Factor Big Dancing Brother On Ice with Harry Potter in Afghanistan. I wonder how long i’ll last.
As always, i’m already planning the next trip. In the mean time i’m unsure of what to do with the blog. What do i write about now i’m not sleeping in hostels and eating kebabs? As i won’t be travelling for a while would it be true to the title to keep it going? Should i change the title to something more honest such as ShutUpJustTryAndGetAJob or ShutUpJustDrinkUntilYouVomitInTheStreets? Let me know what you think. I’ll leave you with some questions that have, for whatever reason, entered my head over past few months.
1. Why are e-tickets printed on paper?
2. Why are power cuts never during the day?
3. Why are you always oblivious to announcements at train or bus stations until it’s one about your journey, even if the announcement is in a language you don’t understand?
4. Why is it whenever you book a ticket the train is empty but if you don’t book one the train is packed?
5. Why is it when you’re desperate for a shit and you use a public toilet there’s never any toilet paper? Or worse still there are only two sheets left so you try and wipe your arse with toilet paper the size of a bus ticket and get shit on your fingers.
6. Why is it wherever you go in the world you always see a pair of old manky trainers tied together and thrown over a telephone line? Who started this and why did people decide to copy it?
7. Why is it wherever you go in the world you always see a child wearing an English Premier League Football shirt? How the fuck did the Manchester Utd away shirt from the 1996-97 season find its way to rural Uzbekistan?
8. Why do you always see one glove on a fencepost every winter regardless of the country you’re in?
9. Why do people who drive their car with the windows down and the music playing loud always play really shit music? It’s never The Killers or The Kings of Leon is it? It’s always Warren G or DJ Otzi.
10. Why is that six months of your life travelling through different continents and countries taking in mountains, beaches, deserts, cities, villages, friendships and dozens of journeys in cars, boats, buses, trains and planes whilst eating all foods and knocking back strange drinks seem to race by so quickly that at the end of it all you can barely remember what you just did and yet waiting thirty minutes in the cold rain for a bus can seem like a lifetime?
Thanks for reading. Have fun. See you soon.