PLANES, TRAINS AND EXPENSIVE AUTOMOBILES
So here begins my travel story.
My story about my travels.
My travelling story.
Basically a story that I think will be interesting because I’m traveling to lots of different places in a short amount of time.
Because I ballsed up and had to buy a last minute ticket to my friend’s wedding in Italy, and the only way there that didn’t cost a kidney was via lots of different places.
So I thought that if I wrote about it, and made it out to be some sort of adventure, I’d be less inclined to hate myself for putting myself through this.
Perhaps if I include pictures and gifs I can keep you somewhat entertained throughout. We all know a story without pictures is no fun at all, and if I do have any expertise, it is in wasting hours of my life looking at these bloody things.
I had planned to fly stand by, and save a bunch of cash, but as I neared my departure date it became clear that too many other cheapskates had bothered their contacts at United, and the chances of me getting on the plane was slim to none.
I was expecting the worst, and it was pretty bad. A direct flight to Italy was going to cost a little over two kidneys, so I just tried to find the cheapest flight to any city in Europe.
Turns out, on this particular day, it’s Zurich. And for only 300 dollars.
What a deal.
It has a stop over in Düsseldorf I see, maybe I can fly to Milan from there?
No dice – this is what is called hidden city flying and apparently airlines hate it more than a carry on bag that is half a kg over the limit. I would also have to use the same airline, and judging by how many times I had to apologise for even daring to ask the question to the airline representative I spoke to on the phone, it was not going to work out. I’m far too British to upset even an airline.
CHAPTER 1 – GETTING MY SKINNY FAT ARSE THERE
LAX – NYC
Holy Cockwomble. The son of a particularly famous politician, who is most certainly not on my Christmas card list, is on my plane. What an absurd start to this adventure. Walking through the first class section and their merry band of smug arses is usually an ordeal but today was even more uncomfortable. My contact was brief, and he did have the courtesy to hide one of his major crimes to humanity and dip his head. However, it only thrust one of the others in my direction. The slimy hair was unapologetically gleaning. I don’t know what the hell he puts on it but…oh maybe that is it. Hell. Would explain some things.
Just got to hope the collective will of the world isn’t strong enough today to send this plane headfirst into a mountain.
Free wifi allows me to check a stock, which I wanted to buy that morning but didn’t have the funds for, go up 250% in 40 minutes. I should add that I like to gamble my money away by giving it to the arses in the first class seats as they pump and dump their “businesses” via the stock market. I’ve been hoping that one of my lousy stocks was going to rise from the ashes and put some dollars in my pocket. So far, no luck. I will be checking and praying constantly throughout this ordeal – I mean traveling adventure.
NYC – DUS
After shedding a couple of tears, and saying goodbye to the girlfriend I’m punching way above my weight with, I begin the transatlantic part of the journey.
I’m flying with Eurowings. Yes, that is a real airline. And yes, it’s so cheap they don’t give you a ‘meal’ unless you want to spend 30 extra euros and judging from what they usually give you on planes, I’d rather eat the euros. In coins.
I know in this day and age talking about national stereotypes is highly taboo. Even if they are positive and blatantly obvious, like the Brits being emotional open, having great teeth and being experts in bed. But I can’t help it… I adore this whole German efficiency trait. It’s even more glorious when you’re relying on them to cart you across the sea in a tin can. Everything about this flight right now screams we are reliable, efficient and excellent cuddlers. Even the baby that is two seats away from me has astonishingly not uttered a note of displeasure since we left. He gets it too.
I’ve landed in Düsseldorf. The ease of the flight has reduced my anxiety to a healthy level of defcon 4 and it has given me the exuberance to ask about skipping the Zurich flight and getting to Milan now. To my absolute delight these guys here are ok with playing ball. To hell to the woman on the phone. I will send flowers.
I’ve bought the ticket on my phone – $150. Which is about what I would have spent on a happy meal in McDonalds in Zurich apparently. I know this goes against my whole travelling to lots of places and suffering thing but I’m sure I can make up for it later on. Hang in there.
Bugger, I’ve been sent two email confirmations. I had to refresh the screen when I was buying the ticket so I must have paid twice. The people at the counter say I have to call the ticketing number and of course I can’t use my phone because even though I was sensible and brought a UK sim card (that allows me to use my phone cheaply anywhere in Europe, that is until Brexit rams it idiotic spanner in the works) I can’t open the damn iphone without a paperclip. Where can I get a paperclip?!
I’m about to board but Alec Guinness has popped into my head. “Use the Skype, Will.” I’ve just called the airline up. They see what I’ve done but have not charged me twice. I have no idea what my Grandfather was going on about, I bloody love you Germany.
DUS – MIL
I’m looking at the mountains below and chuckling. Alternate reality Will who is getting the bus from Zurich to Milan tomorrow is really not going to enjoy going round those corners. He doesn’t have the stomach for all that.
As this flight is gloriously uneventful, it gives me a chance to mention why I’m in this financial straitjacket. And by that I mean, why I’m currently only better off than 99% of the world rather than the 99.8% I’ve been told I should be at. How can someone so white, middle class and pompously privileged not be doing well in this society that is horrendously rigged in his favour? Well, it takes some effort I tell you.
1) I devoted myself to something that I wasn’t very good at. Well, more to the point, didn’t have the personality for. I decided at the age of 7 to be an actor and though I trained as hard as my idle bones could handle, I just could never get the hang of this self-promotion thing, which sadly is all too important in this selfie stick era. It’s too alien to me as a person and that coupled with having to cope with a school disco level of rejection on a regular basis, and an actor’s work visa that is criminally restrictive (no theatre FFS), I decided to drop it in favour of hiding behind a microphone. Voice acting is actually a lot of fun and I get to do most my work in clothes that I like wearing the most. My pajamas.
2) I also picked a career that like to pay you X amount of months after you do the job. I’ve managed to talk my way into a couple of nice voice gigs and it seems paying me isn’t very high on anyone’s to do list. Companies have far more important things on their minds, like how to be witty on twitter.
3) The deposit on my last place in LA has yet to be returned to me. I lent on the curtain and the whole curtain rod ripped off, taking quite a bit of the wall with it. I youtube’d how to plaster large holes and went to town with some spackling I bought at a DIY store. I guess the inspection didn’t go well as she isn’t answering my emails.
4) My tax guy, who has still not filed my taxes even though is has been fully paid to do so, is also not responding to my emails. Or calls. His answering machine has been full for two weeks now, so I can’t even leave him a threatening Liam Neeson style voice message. (edit: according to google he’s now been charged with a felony. I emailed the prosecution lawyer to see if it has anything to do with being naughty with our taxes but, alas, no response. Oh shit.)
5) I have funnelled all my savings into stocks and mostly volatile ones. It seems a number of the companies I’ve invested in are run by some particularly shady individuals, who would gladly sell their grandmothers if there was a market for them. I have now started a twitter account to share my thoughts with these charming people.
And, also to be an absolute pain.
MIL – COMO
Apparently, you have to validate your ticket before getting on the trains in Italy, otherwise you get charged the price of the ticket again.
Nice lesson to learn.
You can also face up to a 200 euro fine for this fragrant transgression, which I seemingly evaded, so I guess that makes me the winner here. Things are looking up.
I have to change trains at a dusty, remote station, which allows me the chance to run and find a nearby cafe with a friendly owner willing to part ways with his password for the cost of a small cappuccino, so I hop on and message my friend, who is waiting for me patiently at the station in Como.
However, as I approach Como, I realise that there are two stations and I’m going to the wrong one. I desperately pretend I’m not repressed for a minute and pluck up the courage to ask a nearby passenger for something thin enough to open my damn iphone. He has a key ring which he’s ok with me unwinding and though it doesn’t fit in the hole, I do a great job of cutting my finger with it.
There might be something to this whole law of attraction thing because the only name it goes by these days is, “this bloody phone”. And, well, here it is. Covered in my blood.
I have to say, Apple have done a sterling job of only allowing their phones to be used for a year before they fall apart. My home button stopped functioning a long time ago, it doesn’t charge unless I spend 40 minutes fiddling with the cable and no one ever returns my calls. You know what, I’m glad Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay have permanently sullied the company’s name by calling their daughter Apple.
When I eventually reach Como and, rather importantly, some free wifi, I’m able to share my location and be discovered. I’m no longer alone, and finally able to rely on others to make poor decisions. Which has seemingly already happened.
The airbnb my friend has booked is a convenient hour and half walk up a steep hill from the centre of Como, where will be doing all of the wedding activities. Switzerland is, no lie, closer to the centre of town than the bunk bed that awaits me. Sure, there are buses every blue moon or so, but they seem to be as reliable as a wireless printer. Thankfully there are a couple of taxis to service the entire principality, so we do have something to throw most my travel budget at.
It appears the cost of a taxi here varies greatly.
Italian friend staying with us – 12 euros.
Those who don’t speak a lick of Italian – 30 euros.
I have to give credit to the driver as I was watching the meter like a hawk and he pressed the add a euro to these stupid foreigners button anytime I blinked. He was good. His face showed no remorse either. He must have been a politician in a past life. Or perhaps he is currently one, and the whole screwing over the public thing during regular work hours just isn’t satisfying enough.