I apologise for the severe lack of bloggery over the last few weeks, but every time I tried to make an entry I would get about two paragraphs in and realise that I was either writing erotica or a Tom Clancy plot line. I think I'm past that now. Here's a back dated entry...
Ryan Air, the love of my life; yellow and cramped like an airborne discount bin overflowing with merchandise. Mismatched with the stumbling subtitles of all those European tongues. As cheap and as safe as a $0.25 hooker. You just get the job done.
After neglecting (actually, we've never obeyed it since its initial purchase) the alarm clock yet again, we woke up on the floor of Jessica and Jan's apartment for the last time...at 1:00pm. This wasn't particularly dire since, ever though our flight was in Tampere (a city over 2 hours away) we had until 10pm to get there. So, we spent the afternoon raiding our good hosts' friedge and reading from their ample comic book collection.
Eventually we gathered the energy to clean the kitchen, pack up, and go. We proceeded directly(with the utmost confidence) to the wrong tram line and quickly found ourselves lost, alone and in the dark. Not a problem though, as our trusty map directed us from one street (simply named, hutnikaaskylsanuomi (sp?)) to another and eventually to the train station. A cute Finnish girl even stopped to help us...they're just so friendly!
At the train station in Tampere, while in limbo for the transit to the airport, we had an encounter with an odd little troll-man. Ah, how authentic, I thought, those stories of Trolls and Gnomes my Scandinavian grandmother used to read me were not all fable! Soberingly though, he turned out to be a drunken American activist. This was difficult to discern at first, since, in an attempt to ask us where the RyanAir transit would stop, he used some combination of languages which we should henceforth refer to as Slavbalticfinicelandicgermanican (to expound that, "Slavic-Baltic-Finnish-Icelandic-Germanic-American-Tainttongue").
Apparently, he was some lifetime anarchist who never got the point (not even after he started to lose his hair) and fed-up with America's lack of desire to convert to a commune and that his home, New Orleans, got a bit wet, decided to move to Europe to work illegally. In a short period of time we comprised the story of his 2 years past as a European tour not better described than by the term "dodgy."
We spent the next few hours trying to avoid his bizzare attempts at conversation and were nearly successful when he caused a ruckus in airport security via a heated argument with a Russian model that he no doubt outed for looking "less than not slutty". Eventually we found our seats on the plane and I settled in to read a great book which I then would forget on the plane 3 hours later.
After disembarking from the plane, we hurried to beat the line to customs. In true British fashion though, customs was a good 3km from the plane and involved navigating a labyrinth of depressing corridors, elevators, and appropriate elevator musak. Following this, we were shuttled along an underground tram system that looked as though it was built around the model of so many nuclear testing facilities. Angie discovered that the seats were lined with something that felt like 1000s of hypodermic needles pointed upward.
About 30 minutes later we arrived at British Border Control, a place normally populated with vicious hose-beasts. This time, however, we were offered passage by a surprisingly nice (and even pretty, which is highly unusual for Britain) blonde, 20-something. Moments before approaching the gate though, our American "friend" caught up with us in the queue.
"Do I have to tell them you're lying to get ahead of me or what?" he offered.
I very nearly bludgeoned him to death with my Nalgene bottle, It was fortunate for him that a very proper British signpost cautioned against such things. God save the queen, for she saved this poor soul.
Now 2am Finnish time, or 12am UK time, and a long damn time past bed time either way, we scored return tickets to Oxford on a National Express Coach.
The goal: Hang out with my old flatmate from China, Nick.
The challenge: Try to sleep on a British coach for the next 4 hours.
The obstacles obstructing said goal: The deceptively torturous seats that adorn National Express Coach Lines. Picture a torture device where you have to balance you tail bone and associated anatomy on a crowsnest of rebar neatly presented as a "luxury" seat. Said "luxury" seat is also wrapped in something that resembles leather and promotes the same pooling of sweat about your bottom as would leather. Further details include a driver mumbling incoherently, in a Northerner accent, the names of each stop in a city you've never been to, nor have a map of.
By 4am, we had finally arrived in Oxford. This gave us ample time to kill, walking around the city, trying to find a doorway to curl up in a take a nap. In our delirious, sleep deprived state, we soon found ourselves lost somewhere between a castle and a river, neither of which we could sleep in. Fortunately we found a crackhead mumbling to himself to offer us directions.
Finally, after wandering around for an hour or so with 20kg of baggage each, we found our bus terminal again and collapsed under an overhang to wait out the opening of the nearest source of coffee.
At the point of originally writing this I had been up for about 20 hours. I would be up for another 17 after that before actually getting any sleep. Somewhere in there my friend's dad showed me a hand cranked pipe organ thingy that blew my friggin' mind. I also ate a Kebab.
Hm...my notes in my journal here on my lap say something about "Mario Testino" I think that he's a portrait photographer. Scope him out if you get a chance. I just did, and it was great.