Travel Stories

From Sunburns to Embarrassingly Polite Requests. A short list of Donnie’s Travel Lessons.

Travel has taught me some valuable lessons about myself and as everyone is gleefully making travel plans for when national and international travel once again becomes a thing, I thought I would impart some of my well-earned wisdom on you. I have never met someone who travelled extensively, experienced other cultures and was able to maintain a closed mindedness. Travel does nurture the inner wise-person in us all. The following is wisdom gained through me being an idiot.


1. TENERIFE.  DON’T FALL ASLEEP ON A SUNLOUNGER ON THE BEACH FRONT.

The Canary Islands are Spanish but the people who live there prefer to call themselves Canarians. Tenerife is an island where civilization has grown around the base of Mt. Teide. It is unique because a two hour bus ride can take you from beaches where you wear sandals and shorts to a mountain top where you’ll be wanting a thick jumper and a jacket. You can be standing surrounded by pine trees and ankle deep in snow and watching tourists far below sunbathing on the beachfront.

Speaking of Sunbathing. The Canary Islands are actually off the coast of North Africa, which means the same weather that has turned the Sahara Desert into the scorching, waterless expanse that it is, is shared by the islands. With this in mind, it’s ironic that when tourists first arrive at the island that may remark about how every store seems to be selling aloe products. By the time they leave these same tourists usually understand why.

Smelt like bacon on a Sunday morning.

For those who would like a more graphic display of what falling asleep on a beach in Playa De Las Americas looks like Click Here.


2. DON’T TRAVEL 48 HOURS ON A BUS FROM SPAIN TO ARAD ROMANIA.

If you’re someone who’s going to enjoy being cramped in a bus seat for 48 hours straight, you probably already know it. Otherwise I wouldn’t recommend this.

And don’t ask about the underwear on the seats.

I actually, voluntarily, chose a bus trip from Madrid Spain to Arad Romania. It was a 48 hour bus ride. That is two days crammed into a window seat of a bus. It was gruelling but in a small way it was its own adventure. If not mostly for my sense of smell and my complete and entire lack of sleep.

For the first six hours of the journey they were playing American rock ballads, including Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams. That was it. Even so, I’m a fan of those two singers and so I was quite happy with it. Then, the driver changed the CD and to the joy of most of the passengers they began playing Romanian folk music. For the remaining 42 hours of the trip.

It became such a problem that the guy who was sitting next to me, who had clearly done this trip before, put his earphones on my head, put his iPod in my hand and saved my sanity by revealing that he was a fan of heavy metal. Did you know that there is a musical genre known as Hardcore Viking Death Metal?

So, as the bus languidly drove through Italy, South of France and other countries I was listening to the bellowing, gruntits of Black Falcon Blazing Lava Fountain. It was quite an eye opener and it’s a strange backing track for my journey through that part of Europe.

Arriving in Arad Romania the driver asked me what I was doing there, and I told him that I was in the city to explore it and get a feel for Romania culture. He immediately said:

“You’ve seen it, do you want to leave now?”

Regarding Arad Romania. There is nothing to do in Arad Romania and everyone seems to be angry.


3. DENIA. SPAIN.  READ THE LABELS ON YOUR CANS.

I was staying in Denia Spain, in a wonderfully tiny little Airbnb only 100 metres from the beachfront. It was a great place to relax and chill and while I only intended to stay there for a month, I ended up staying for two. On the second night I went to the local store to pick up some groceries and was surprised to find that the shelves in said store were stacked in a manner that I was unaccustomed to.

It’s easy to take for granted that in most supermarkets there is a common stacking formula which you are usually quite capable of navigating whether you speak/read the language or not. In hindsight this was something that was a bit of a surprise to me.

Long story short, what I thought was spam in a can turned out to be dog food in a tin.

On another note though, this was my view:


4. PRAGUE.  NOT ALL WALLS ARE THICK.

I love Prague. I love everything about Prague. The city is a bustling tourist hotspot with the most colourful people flowing between some of the oldest architecture. The whole city is a piece of art and it’s clear how this was the birthplace of Bohemia. I love the convenience and reliability of the public transport where the trams and busses are so far ahead of what the UK offers that it’s a little bit of a joke. Best of all I found the people are actually quite accommodating even to the outrageous actions of foreigners.

It was late when I arrived at my Airbnb which was a little way outside of the city, in a beautiful suburban setting. The building was very austere and grey, and the neighbourhood seemed to have just built vertically. It had been a long train and bus journey to get there from Krakow Poland, and I was tired. I poured myself a rum (I always travel with rum), and I decided to watch some artistic performances on my laptop. As you do.

Around 1AM I received a tentative knock on the front door at which I thought was a bit peculiar, but not wanting to be rude I answered, and an elderly man stood at the door in his pyjamas and slippers. He handed me a piece of paper with the following written on it:

Můžete prosím snížit hlasitost svého porna?

He smiled, waved and shuffled back to his apartment. Closing the door behind him.

A bit perplexed and naturally a little worried that I had done something truly wrong I rushed to my computer and using the Google Translate app I was able to easily translate the words. I then spent the rest of my time in Prague avoiding my neighbour and his wife.

Translation: Can you please turn down the volume of your porn?