Europe 1998 ????????????????????

Rushing around like a headless chook

The past few weeks I’ve been rushing around like a headless chook, and haven’t had much time to update my diary. So here’s the latest, including tying up some loose ends from last month:

  • Isaac’s hair was eventually cut by a friendly neighbourhood barber – while Isaac was asleep
  • The beard got shaved off a couple of weeks ago, and was webcast. If you missed it, it’s still available
  • I got flu a couple of weeks ago, and although most of it’s gone, the hideous-sounding cough is still present. Makes me sound like sixty year old chain smoker.

Over the weekend I got the air tickets and the BritRail pass for my trip next month. Still have yet to book the accommodation, which I’ll probably do next week. Even though most of it’s YHA Hostels, it’s apparently best to pre-book for the summer months, so once I’ve worked out my itinerary, I’ll do so.

I’ve got to admit, I’m starting to panic a little bit. Will the family survive without me? Worse yet, will they unaccountably thrive? Will I get to the airport and discover that I’ve forgotten some vital ingredient in the overseas holiday recipe? Like my passport, air tickets, or perhaps even my whole backpack?

When I get to France, what do I do? I don’t speak any French. Okay, so I’m going to practice how to say "I don’t speak French" in French (which sounds pretty silly, now I think of it), but will this be enough? Will the Parisians be friendly and try to communicate exactly where that toilet I need so badly is, or will they somehow work out that I bought an anti-French nuclear test postcard a couple of years ago and take pleasure in watching me sweat (or worse)?

How do the ticket machines work on the Paris Metro? Will I get lost somewhere in the Scottish highlands? What happens if on the tube in London I miss Willesden Green and end up at Stanmore? Is my grandfather really going to try and explain how the toilet works? Should I go to Amsterdam? Should I buy a new camera duty free before I go?

Strangely, what’s making it a little less stressful is the Web. Thanks to the Web, I’ve been reading up on the various cities I’ll be heading for. I can check my flight details. I can find out what time the trains are from Inverness to Plockton. Marvellous stuff.

I still want to know why every place name has its own translation in every other language – and who decides how they’re translated. But perhaps it just doesn’t matter.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.