2016 Travel Plans…

Here is a brief run-down of my plan for 2016…it’s rather comprehensive – but if I pull it off then that’ll mean a whole host of new stories for Storytime with John! 

So wish me luck, please!

Oh, and if you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Hate at First Sight (Hungary)

Hungary ~ Budapest – 2014

I hadn’t been to Hungary in well over five years, so on this recent trip to eastern Europe I was hoping for a different experience with more mature eyes…for those of you who didn’t read it before, this was my last encounter with the country:- “scrotum-stares-hungary” I mean the name says it all…but it’s still probably worth a quick read just so you are up to speed!

Anyway, rest assured I had my fingers crossed hoping that there would be a lot less scrotums this time around, and a little less staring if possible! Well the short version is that I didn’t see any scrotums on this adventure (automatic huge plus!), but the staring was at threat level midnight! This time there was a lot more hostility to the gazes, I think it was due to the fact that I was now a young man…so therefore probably fair game, perhaps when I was a child they didn’t think it was so acceptable to give me the type of look that suggests they want to rip off my head and use it as an ornament, or more likely – an ash tray.

Hostile GIF

As my brother and I walked around it became clear that the male portion of the population were the most forthright in their glares – they sneered, growled, and made every other caveman-ish attempt to make us feel uncomfortable. We stood out I guess, the native’s clothes looked like they had been purchased in the early 90s…usually the look was completed with a raggedy mullet curling down the flabby neck of its owner – so in comparison, despite the fact we were just wearing shirts and dark jeans, in their eyes we may as well have been wearing Elton John style glitter jackets. This is largely conjecture, but we came to the conclusion that they probably thought we were two young homosexual chaps on a nice week break together…and that they would try and laser-eye the homosexuality out of us, or at least make us feel sufficiently uncomfortable with the whole thing. Hard to enjoy licking an ice cream cone, with 20 bigoted men staring at your every movement. Very awkward. 

On the subway we took to staring at the ground, pretending we were not aware of the blatant display of hatred – in our hometown it was pretty much the same drill in certain areas. Both places were filled with people who will aggressively stare, and if you even glance at them it will be all, “are you looking at me?! You want to start something?! Someone hold my brain I’m going to fuck this cheeky bastard up!!!” I can’t speak Hungarian, but I imagine it is pretty much the same, word for word. One time we stepped on the train, cue hateful stares of course – but this time we were also met with a strange gypsy-looking lady humming a bizarre tune loudly to the rest of the cramped carriage…I assumed she was asking for money for her performance, but nope…she was just rocking back and forth wailing out of her lungs…this would make a great eerie tune on a horror movie sequence, I thought to myself…but was cut short from this imaginary sequence by a mustached man in front of me – he pointed at my trainers, so naturally I looked down…maybe my laces were untied, or a bird had shit on them or something…nothing…I looked back at him, and he pointed again – oh God, leave me alone – I shook my head, and looked away, wondering if my ear drums would explode anytime soon so I wouldn’t have to be subjected to the lady’s groaning tune anymore –

“JUST LOOK, JUST LOOK!”

I knew it was him. I took my time to turn to face him, and even when I did it was with a slow robotic movement…I didn’t want to have anything more to do with him, but perhaps if I didn’t give him drips of conversation he would pin me down and make me listen to the harpy-lady’s song for the rest of time. And I couldn’t take that. He made gestures that insinuated he wanted me to take of my shoes, and give them to him…you know, just so he could look.

Oh my God, I am going to be beaten up and robbed for my trainers…I’ll have to walk back to the flat in my socks…I bet there will be loads of little stones that are mildly uncomfortable to tread on…oh God, no…just FUCK OFF, comb your mustache, slap a Gran, go cow-tipping, something, anything – whatever you do – JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

So scared GIF

I shot him a confused look, that in my head would be perfect Oscar-winning acting…”I done, I done no…what you say…when…I done” I stammered to him slowly, even introducing my hands and shoulders, to further emphasise just how little sense his broken English was making to me…in my head I was Russian…but I suppose it doesn’t really matter, so long as he didn’t run off with my Nike Airs.

We arrived at a station, the doors opened – and the majority of the cabin flooded out together, they had been some kind of strange collective group…the strange singing lady, the burly sneaker thief, and the rest of his staring entourage. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief…as did my shoes.

Stepped in shit on the way back to the flat though, go figure – should have left him have em after all! 

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Fancy footwork!

My couple of days in Austria were for the most part overwhelmingly positive, (stay tuned for the single negative part in another post soon!) – I mean, the place is beautiful; filled with breathtaking architecture, some of the best art the world has ever seen, and people who are warm and friendly – especially when compared with their far more stern and stand-offish Hungarian neighbours. Case in point, in Hungary someone tried to have a go at stealing my trainers…in Austria a stranger saw me battling with a map and pointed me in the right direction…

Also the coffee in Hungary tastes like someone has put some coffee granules in their mouths, washed it about with a bit of luke warm water, and then spat it into warm-ish milk – making sure to stir thoroughly before serving to unsuspecting customers. Coffee in Austria is totally on point: espresso that makes you feel like it isn’t such a big deal that you haven’t slept more than four hours a night for a week straight…now I look at the situation with fresh well rested eyes, I am starting to question whether the caffeine situation has a lot to do with my (probably) terrible bias – yeah, probably – so apologies to both sides, but you do both have great cakes – so perhaps you can take solace in that? Joint first on the cake podium? No? Okay.

Continue reading “Fancy footwork!”

Scrotum Stares

Hungary – Budapest ~ 2005

If you ever venture to Eastern Europe, then be prepared for one thing – the stares. They’re wonderful places, and they’re filled with just as wonderful people (I’m sure), but it seems, that wherever you go, the total sum of its inhabitants can’t help but stare you down with a look that says “I’m seriously going to murder you and harvest your organs”. But you know…different cultures, one love, live and let live. All that jazz.

Ermmm. Moving swiftly on!

Anyway, I’ve visited the city of Budapest, in Hungary, a couple of times – and apart from the vicious murderous stares that I’ve just mentioned, I find it to be a beautiful and culturally rich place, what with the elaborate architecture and historic monuments, I would probably recommend it to any would-be tourist! That is, if it wasn’t for the scrotums. You see no trip to Budapest is complete without a visit to the Turkish bath spas…

“You just have to try them! (People will tell you!) You’ll feel so relaxed and it will just melt away your stress!”

Disagree GIF

Well you know what people? Call me a prude if you like, but there is something about a large group of naked 80 year men staring at me while I shower that makes me uncomfortable…maybe it’s the fact that they’re licking their lips? Maybe it’s the fact that their testicles are hanging down to their knees? Who knows…but hey, it didn’t do much for relieving my stress…even when they massaged my shoulders without me giving consent. I didn’t mean to seem ungrateful or anything,  but the whispering in my ear was a bit much.

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