Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dark Knight

Down in Limerick at the minute, boredom took hold last night so myself and the aul lad went down the road to see 'The Dark Knight.'

Imagine my surprise to discover it didn't single-handedly redefine the role of cinema in our society, didn't cure world hunger, didn't get the cinema to combust in one massive orgasmic explosion.

It was perfectly fine.

I was entertained but I found the whole thing spoiled by too many characters, crap sound in the cinema and Batman's voice. I couldn't help thinking he was doing a bad Harry Callahan throughout, and would any minute ask the Joker was he feeling lucky?

Pedant that I am, I've always had trouble suspending disbelief with these types of films. The inner child swallowed by the inner critic.

Good work by Heath Ledger, though. Still a damn shame...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interlude

Saturday morning I woke up with a pain in my gullet the size of Canada. Something had been brewing for days and had culminated in a dizzy piece of shit-feeling awfulness.

I was to leave Vienna for Prague that morning, and made my way to the train station.

Nausea rose and I got to heaving horribly in the Hauptbahnhof jacks. Something wasn't right, and I went to the outside to take some air.

In the finish, seeing the bus for the airport proved too alluring, given my predicament.

"Screw Prague, there'll be again in it," I said to nobody at all.

450 euro and seven or eight hours later I was back on Charleville Road. The initial wave of sickness had passed to leave only the horrible feeling of regret that I hadn't stuck it out, or at least subjected myself to some foreign krankenhaus. Fuck it, though, it's all about forward, forward, forward.

I'm in Limerick now and getting seen to tomorrow. All things going well I'll resume my travels in some guise - there are still some dots on the map I simply have to stick a pin in.

That being said, I never bought into the fact that this was my "last chance to do this sort of thing" as some have said.

Life maps itself out differently for everyone, and once my choices remain my own I'm happy.

On to other matters. Yesterday I went to town to buy the third series of The US Office. That is some seriously funny shit right there.

It is for me the perfect modern sitcom, miles and miles superior to its English progenitor (because Ricky Gervais remains a smug little cunt. Don't like him.)

Anyway, I started watching it around 6.30pm yesterday. Twenty episodes later it was 5am and I was officially an out-of-work lunatic. The slapstick, Rainn Wilson's Dwight, the unbearable tension between Jim and Pam, THAT closing image from the last episode that made me damn near piss myself.

Fuck it, we're all friends here, there was a trickle.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You do nothing for me, OH VIENNA!

I'm not wowed by Vienna. I'm not. I think it's a city that would do better in the sun, the problem being that there isn't any. Magnificent buildings aplenty - even the banks are works of supreme architecture - but I can't get into the place at all.

I've come to the reasoning that some cities are born to be seen in company, and Vienna is just too vast and daunting to be visited alone. Even now I feel guilty for taking time out to write this blog when I should be seeing museums and galleries and parks, but fuck it. That U-Bahn is a killer and I need to rest my foot, which is still giving me ire.

I'm staying in the Harmonie Hotel, and it's well named with its nicely appointed interior and sizable rooms. Imagine my delight at seeing not just a bathtub, but a bidee (not that I've ever used one without flooding the bathroom floor. I'm awkward like that.)

To get chronological, after leaving Strasbourg behind I made my way to Stef in Heidelberg on Sunday. We rested up, went for a nice lunch on the main street (can never remember its name), rested again and then went to Karlsruhe for DAS FEST!

Lots of terrible haircuts and even terribler music, but it was still a delightful experience spent in the company of the quare one and her friends Joanne and Henning.

Monday took me to Salzburg at Stef's suggestion, and mercy me what a place. I had the best food, the best beer, the best experience of this trip in its infancy. Forget Strasbourg and all that romantic nonsense, Salzburg wins flat out. I was staying near Mozartplatz in a pretty little 'pension' called Hotel Chiemsee.

The museum for the Amadeus lad was impressive, though I only had a quick walk through its courtyards.

The main street in the Altplatz was beautiful but far too busy with American tourists and real people alike.

I took fuck all pictures because I kept forgetting my camera, but that scarcely matters. It's all captured 'up here' (points to head) and would most likely bore everyone else to jaysus in pictorial f0rm.

Got locked in an Irish bar, as you do, and got chatting to the nice barmaid who wanted to know about Killorglin in Kerry for some reason. She's off there next week but I told her to forget that and go to Dingle for herself. She'd be much happier, and drunker for it, but she's set on her course so leave her be.

Right, I'm gone again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Coming soon...

John Kelly's The View analyse the events behind "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart."

Radge in Heidelberg 3. The terror of seeing Roisin Murphy do that robot dance and a lovely day with Stef.

Radge tries to ride the city of Salzburg. Sexually.

Radge goes off to find his Viennese hotel and hopes it isn't a shithole like the place in Strasbourg.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"I am trying to break your heart."

"Excuse me, do you speak English?"

"Yes I do. Fluently, in fact."

I disembarked the boat showing me the many ins and outs of Strasbourg, a glass bubble that made us as goldfish to the laughing and pointing natives overhead. No matter, it was pleasurable and I learned a lot about my favourite place since I started this trip.

When it was finished there was a hunger, born to distract the gods themselves, in my belly, so I stopped at one of the many local bierstubs for some food.

The waitress was hassled, less than lovely, and sulked at my pigeon attempts to speak the language. In waiting I took a look around me - couples in love, couples with children, children with other children, people with each other and chatting feverishly.

Again the pangs of homesickness hit, ever so slightly. It was a scene I´d encountered for days during meal time. Of course, I tried to fix my gait to reflect a man happy to be in his own company, seeing the world anew solo, but it was wearying too.

At the very next table a girl sat down. Ice cream complexion, blue eyes, a brown coat covering clothes of olive colour. Autumnal.

Eager to hear the sound of my own voice again and realising, after five minutes or so, that she wasn´t waiting for someone, I started to talk to her, on the pretense of wanting to know something about the menu (I forget now).

Elaine, from Stoke in England, studying commerce in Strasbourg. She was immediately beguiling, nothing was stilted and I told her what I was doing. She made me feel like I had a story, even though all I´d really done was walk many places, drink wine and beer, read, write and take trains since leaving Dublin Airport. It was good, great even, to have the immediacy of response and share.

I stuck to the truth of me.

In all the months leading up to my trip I knew I could lie freely, invent scenarios and a new history for myself, and leave without seeing the person again. With this girl, this Elaine, no need. No need to embellish or bullshit, and we learned each other over our pizzas and wine.

We eschewed dessert to get away from the increasingly rude waiting staff, and she suggested a walk down the long Grande Rue to one of the city´s many quays. As open as I´d ever been to anything, I would have walked across the German border with her and felt no fatigue.

I asked her was she not self conscious, eating alone, as in Dublin it´s a rarely seen thing for a girl to take outdoor food without company. She was having none of it. She was simply hungry and her friends all had plans, and she felt like getting out. She seemed bemused slightly by my question, but I put it down to a cultural thing and she understood.

We passed a bar, Jimmy´s Bar, and went inside for a drink. In the table candlelight she´d prove somewhat ethereal, unreal. Her accent was tough to pin down and if she hadn´t told me where she came from, I never would have placed her as British, or Australian, or South African, with magnificent cheekbones illuminated.

What was said is a blur now at several days´remove, but the feeling was of comfort and sobriety, rare bedfellows for an Irishman.

We strolled again, inching towards those quays, the rain started. She fixed an umbrella from nowhere. I took it in chivalry and she came that bit closer. Closer. She fit well next to me, smaller but not too much so, slim and shivering slightly in the unseasonal damp.

Then a deluge. Sudden, swift and unrelenting, the pair of us doused instantly and laughing in our confusion. Lightning strikes, thunder, maelstrom.

In a doorway, both of us half in the rain, she kissed me. Soft, sweet, swift. Eyes closed I scarcely remembered a moment this visceral. A culmination of something different. Not a drunken lunge or a tawdry dancefloor encounter. Not something describable.

Having felt her presence slowly disengage, I opened my eyes again to find the discarded umbrella gone, and with it her, our encounter as ephemeral as the lightning strike that preceded it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Radge goes all world order.

Allors!

OK, enough with the French intros. I remain in Marseille but not for much longer. Leaving tomorrow morning at 7.39am for a location deep in the Himalayas. OK, well, Strasbourg, but it's one and the same really.

I'm not awed by this place, despite my good feelings about it when last I blogged. The port area, wherefrom I blog, is very beautiful, but head down any of the side streets and you'll see there's muck under that there golden surface.

Also, the people are far less friendly than in Paris, with none of the joie de vivre I came to associate with the capital in my short spin there.

I did enjoy my evening last night though. I sat out at a port-side restaurant for a feed of moules mariniere et frites. Now, the mussels were absolute cack, but the chips were sound as a bell and I'd a delicious wine to go with it. Not only that, but the setting (including the beautiful mademoiselle sitting at the next table) was really something to behold. Yachts, cathedrals and lights all around, with only a single high-rise apartment, in the distance, hurting the view.

My plans for Italy have been temporarily set back, with transport strikes crippling the country at random intervals. That's not something I want to get into, hence my course for Germany and onwards.

I've become addicted to BBC World News, as in my downtime it's the only English language channel in the hotel. Seems to me the Israelis got a pretty raw deal in their exchange with Hezbollah, but I do admire them for bringing those bodies back to native soil.

Hang on. I've gone political. I need to get drunk immediately.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Out of Lowenbrau!

Ohlalalalalalala!!!

France truly is the country of lovely bums. I'm not talking about well mannered begging folk. No no. Arses. Fantastic. I was remarking upon this to 5x in Paris the other day, and he told me it was all the steps. Well, get me a portable chairlift because it's one city delightfully formed.

There is, of course, also the question of the architecture, the wine, the arses, the FOOD, the arses, les jardins, the bookshops and the arses, but the arses win it for me.

I'm being bawdy and I don't care, I'm in France away from all potential admonishment.

The three days in Paris were topmost. I arrived on Saturday, dropped my bags and immediately set about finding 5x. We drank until my stomach burst - blocked a sink in the process - with the culprit a stout named, craply, the Dark de Triomphe.

On Sunday came the tourist nonsense. He brought me to Shakespeare And Company from 'Before Sunset,' St Louis et St Michel, Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse and a class little pub called La Belette near his home. All the while we tried to out-word each other and he won.

He left yesterday so I spent Bastille Day wandering aimlessly the streets, drinking wine and coffee and being very pseudo-Parisien indeed.

Took the TGV today and came south to Marseille. Just had a brief taking of it in before coming to check my correspondance, and I'm going to like this place for the next three days.

Going back to the train, it's ridiculously efficient. I travelled the length of France in the space of three hours, and only had to pay a supplementary tenner for the pleasure. Take that Iarnrod Eireann.

Still settling in to the loneliness factor, quite bizarre to not know a soul, and this idea of a coterie of backpackers to drink against hasn't materialised yet, but hopefully it will in short time. Accommodation is proving more expensive than I thought, et j'espere que, eh, it becomes cheaper en route.

Oh, and it's sunny ta fuck.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gutted.

Two days until I head off to see Europeland, and I nearly saw the whole thing come unstuck by a bastard of a stomach problem, post-stag.

It seems I drank myself into a damage, I have gastritis (nicely described as an inflammation of the stomach lining) and therefore have to take drugs to deflate.

Horror of horrors I can't drink for the foreseeable, and fatty foods are out the window too. FUCK sakes. Worse still, 5X tells me he'll be in Paris to greet me this weekend after all, with his own holiday postponed until Monday. While I delight in the prospect of meeting the sire himself, I'll have to do it in a sober state despite his protestations to the contrary.

As if my last entry wasn't clear enough, Galway was officially the drunkenmost I've been in my life. It surpasses Brain Day '04 for sheer, reckless, wreckedness. Saturday was the ultimate in utter fucking drunken perseverence, to the point where I was escorted from some unnamed pub by two bouncers, having been seen shouting at the neighbouring Butler's Chocolate Cafe, probably calling it a big gay boy's underpant.

Other stuff happened too. I'm told.

Later I have to go shopping, my least favourite of pursuits. More t-shirts, some travel towels, comfortable pants (I don't think there's a stigma attached, but could be wrong), some security items to keep my tickets and passport safe, blah di blah. I can't even finish the whole dreadful experience off with a jar. This is the worst pain of all.

Finally, apologies to those I said I'd meet this week before I head away, I really have been in a complete hoop. I am making my way to town tomorrow night, however, even if I have to stick to the water.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fuckled.

Things I remember from the weekend just gone in Galway on the occasion of Owen's stag:

1) Finbar's relentless impressions of Paul Dempsey, brilliant, and my poor attempts to copy him.

2) Ollie bristling every time I attempted same.

3) Getting thrown out of Butler's Chocolate Cafe. Actually, I don't remember this, but the lads tell me it was hilarious.

4) Subsequently getting fucked out of the pub next door. Again, I have a snapshot of it in my head, but that is all.

5) Drinking gin and bitter lemon in the hostel (I think).

6) Sitting in Supermacs with Johnny on Friday and realising I'd never seen him so drunk.

7) Chatting up some young one from Seattle, inviting her for a drink, then turning on my heel when we couldn't find a pub.

8) Getting told to shut the fuck up by the hostel authorities.

9) 11am Jameson.

10) 11.30am Jameson.

11) Sleeping on a wet mattress. No, I didn't piss the bed - Neil Cowzer soaked me with water.

12) Posing my testicles for the camera. That one's going to surface at some inappropriate time.

Things I don't remember from the weekend just gone in Galway on the occasion of Owen's stag:

1) The second half of Saturday.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shop Street

Right, Galway awaits. It's the weekend of Cowzer's stag, and I'm leaving Limerick shortly for the likes of Naughton's, The Skeffington Arms and wherever else will get our legions locked.

Should I die, bury me near Neary's.

Full report upon my return.