Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bologne- Not Quite a City of Dreams

Very little to report today- to which you may ask why I am bothering to write anything.
The answer is that I have an hour to kill before going for dinner and I am trying a new thing where I don't spend every free minute I have on Facebook.
Much of this morning was taken up by travelling to Bologne, after which it took comparitively little time to discover that their is absolutey nothing to do here; though the main sqaure is pretty, it is essentially just that- a square, and as such did not take very long to explore. Upon researching (ie: googling,) the various clubs within the immediate vicinity, we decided upon one called Black Shadow, which we would adorn our glad-rags in order to hit up this evening. Unfortunately, this recreational spot turned out to be a strip- club. Though I essentially had no problem with this, and Isabella was actually quite keen to go, as Sophie is yet to try the clubbing scene, we thought it might be a bit full-on.
As such, we have fully planned tomorrow's excursion to Venice, which will be an early start but definitely worth it, as I am assured it is an extremely interesting location- (as soon as I discovered that you had to take a water-taxi from the station to reach the city, I was sold.)
Tomorrow is my last full day in Itay before a brief stint back in Leeds, and so I will endeavour to spend a little time concluding my trip before I jet off for the glamourous life in NYC- concrete jungle that dreams are made of. Looking forward to seeing my parents but could not be less excited to be back home, however, I guess I cannot complain.
Hope all is well, Cal.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Actual Culture Minus Alcohol

Dear all, Italy is good, weather is great and somehow have tan. Last day in Sorrento today- Bologne tomorrow, home of bolognese, yum yum! Hope England is nice and the cat is ok, home soon. Love Cal xxxxxx *Is probably what a post-card home would say (if it had occurred to me to send one.) However, that would be a definite insult to the previous two days' brilliance, which I hope to recount now to the best of my ability. Yesterday was dedicated to exploring the Amalfi coast- a playground of the rich and the famous, like Dolce and Gabbana and Elton, the queen herself. Needless to say that we didn't run into anyone particularly influential, but my new claim to fame is that I saw Janet Develin sat in an Irish bar, (one can only assume that she enjoys the cliche- apologies that I can't find the acute on this iPhone.) Built into a sheer cliff-face, these higgledy-piggledy towns like Positano and Amalfi require a strong pair of calves to navigate, but if you have these at your disposal, you are rewarded by charming views as they are quite literally hidden gems absolutely full of character. It is probably unsurprising that we spent some time at the beach but the experience sounds quite cultured if you miss that bit out. The bus back to our hostel was an hour and a half long, in which I was stood with my face pressed into a variety of windows, armpits and bags for the entire journey, while constantly fearing that I would be catapulted through the door- a definite stand-out moment so far. However, today was incredibly exciting as I finally realised my dream of visiting Pompei, cultivated by hours dedicated to watching Mary Beard documentaries. It was an early start, and we arrived before the gates opened, which meant that we were able to experience this haunting place as it was supposed to be seen- a dead city, completely devoid of people, save for a few archeologists, before the hoardes of American tourists arrived from their cruises. It was absolutely amazing seeing the delapidated buildings which I have seen so much in picture, in the flesh, and the perfectly retained corpses which are so famous. Tomorrow we move on to my final stop in Italy before I come home, which is very sad, but hopefully a trip to Venice will be feasible. Regardless, I am sure that the next few days will be packed with activity. Home soon, hope everyone is enjoying their summer, Cal (xxxx)

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Saucy Sorrento

Things we have learnt so far in Sorrento: 1. If you need to do a number two, make sure to eat some plums. 2. If you choose not to eat at a restaurant, it is highly likely that the head waiter will give you intentionally misleading directions to your hostel. 3. Tequila is dangerous when consumed by Isabella. 4. Chessy gets very stroppy when she has to pay four euros to use a train when she has bought an interrailing ticket. 5. 3D 'cat cards' are an excellent way to pass time when you have missed an inter-city train. 6. Happy hour actually only saves you 88 pence despite buying approximately 12 drinks. 7. Typing on an iPhone when intoxicated is relatively difficult. 8. Sorrento is without doubt one of the most stunning places in the whole of Italy. 9. Pompeii is only a short train-ride away and as such, is on the agenda. 10. Volumising powder makes you 'powderful.'

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Eternal City

'Grazi! Prego-' are the two Italian words that I can now fluently exclaim after hours of arduous practice. We are currently in Roma, having finished choir tour very drunkenly yesterday morning and picking up the last (and eagerly awaited) member of our group, Sophie from the airport. With relatively little time in the evening, we decided to visit the Vatican, and thankfully Chessy did not burst into flames despite her role as the minxy anti-Christ. We attempted to convince her to go to confession but she was having none of it.) Today has been very full-on, particularly as it is Sophie's 18th birthday, which provided some pressure. First on the agenda was the colosseum, which is just as impressive as everyone says and which I felt very smug about giving some background to due to my Classics A-level and love of the 'Roman Mysteries' novels. I would also like to publically thank the saint who handed in my wallet to lost and found despite the fact that it was full of loose euros- I put down my good karma to the spiritual encounter of visiting the Vatican yesterday. We have also seen the Roman forum, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps and Pantheon. in short, I felt like Lizzie McGuire/ one of the Olsen twins, it has been busy but amazing in such an exciting city. Tomorrow we move on to Sorrento, which should be slower paced and more relaxed after running around today, which is definitely needed. Ultimately, though I am sad to be leaving the eternal city, I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain and so know that I will definitely be back one day. Also, I have been informed that the weather in England is torrential, so will briefly point out that it is 37 degrees here. See you soon, Cal.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Tuscan Traveller: Take 1

Greetings from Italy!
It's been a busy few days here in Tuscany- lots of concerts and sightseeing; with less sleep. Montecatini (alternatively known as Montycatty by some of my less cultured friends,) is a beautiful place with some stunning views, but we have also visited Pisa and Florence which are equally gorgeous. Unfortunately, the beauty of Lucca (which has been described as the most exquisite place in Italy) was denied to us as we were in dire need of extra rehearsal. Last night we performed a set in an exclusive members-only dining and theatre club, which was both terrifying and amazing- though the sheer amount of food we were provided with was potentially the highlight so far, made by some famous-ish guy with a book and a dvd who looked a bit like a bad santa. Essentially it was this that made our many hours of 'practice' by the pool worthwhile. In fact, that was our fourth gig, others of which have included singing mass on a roasting hot evening- thankfully, no one hit the deck despite the heat, and outside the leaning tower of Pisa- I was denied entrance to the cathedral as my shoulders were out- a risqué move which apparently was not well received by the catholic church. Today we are hitting Florence again and painting the town red, as it were, while tomorrow is the beach, which is great as I am currently rocking the 'pale and interesting' look- culture is great but doesn't provide a good tan.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

My Threat to Write this Summer

Hi hi hi,
Basically, apologies for the prolonged absence (not that I can imagine anyone was too bothered,) but what with exams I have simply been too intrigued by medieval English and women’s rights to have much time to blog. Admittedly, during my post-exam binge (which incidentally left my pockets empty and my head even more so,) I wasn’t all that interested either- a travesty I’m sure you’ll agree. However, that is all about to change. This is not really a post in itself. Oh no; please instead regard it as a tantalising teaser of what is yet to come, what is in store for any lucky reader who has stumbled upon this blog. As of Saturday, I am basically lucky enough to be jet-setting around the globe for a good 5 weeks, and I see no better opportunity to write than this. I will be visiting Italy for two weeks- inhabiting such places as Rome, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany, before dashing off to the busy streets of New York for a week, and finishing in the idyllic paradise that is Bermuda.
Please do stay tuned to be regaled with amusing anecdotes, snippets of information about the places I go, and even hopefully some guest appearances from my fellow travellers- Francesca Whalen (if she’s not too stressed,) Isabella Buono (if she’s not too drunk,) and Sophie Stone (if she’s not ditched us in favour of her own private adventure.) I will try to be a Bill Bryson figure but otherwise think of this as Eat. Pray. Love. in a blog form and myself as your Julia Roberts- minus the mid-life crisis. I hope that those of you who are doing your own travelling will get a chance to check this out, and those who do unfortunately do not have the opportunity may experience some vicarious enjoyment from it. If no-one reads it except my Mum (who will only do so begrudgingly in order to confirm my safety, while tutting at any misuse of grammar and/or bad punctuation,) then that is also ok and I promise not to get too sulky.
Thanks, and see you in Italy!
PS: If you don’t get the Julia Roberts reference, you should get yo’self down to Blockbusta.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Proud Grandfather at 18 years of age

I have a recommendation for the day: Friday nights in.
I have come to the sad realisation that I am a premature Grandpa in disguise. Today I got home from school at 4.30. The first thing I did was take off my suit and get into my one-piece (this in itself is unacceptable and I know it makes me a dick but it’s so comfortable that I simply won’t hear a bad word said against it.) I proceeded to watch Masterchef, which I had taped from last night- (hope Tom wins,) have a bath (no candles, but bubbles did feature,) eat a Chinese (plus a few bags of crisps) and read a bit of my book (for about 5 minutes before tuning in to New Girl and other shit telly.) You may be a very liberal individual and believe that this behaviour is totally acceptable- I appreciate your tolerance. However, the upsetting thing about my routine is the fact that 16-year-old Callum would be turning in his grave (metaphorical obviously) if he could see my actions (metaphorically again, because he is me and- as such can see everything.. Sorry if that’s confusing.) From the very day I turned 16 I was simply waiting to be 18, when my real life would begin. During the two intervening years I was patient and stoic, as I knew in my heart of hearts that they were simply “transition years.” For me ‘18’ was synonymous with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll; it was a symbol of freedom and liberation from constraint as one entered the world of adulthood. Then I hit 18 and I realised that I’m not actually a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll kind of guy. In actual fact, I’m the guy that is excited for the next series of Downton Abbey and finds it difficult to go out two nights in a row without a midday nap to keep me going. In short, I am a premature Grandfather.

What’s worse, I love it.

At 16, I longed to be a member of Skins, with “delirious highs and inevitable lows” (that’s the official tag-line of the show- how pretentious is that) characterising my lifestyle choices. Now, when I watch the programme, I am more concerned by how little revision they are doing for their exams and why they are seemingly oblivious to the fact that they clearly need a good bath. When I go out, I enjoy frequenting Halo, where the most hectic thing I have hitherto experienced was their free giveaway of santa-hats in a fit of festive good-will. The music isn’t dirty, grimy dubstep, but a mixture of whatever is in the top 40’s chart and a variety of 90’s hits. I dance like my Dad and at a recent party, I moved on to a cheeky Smirnoff Ice when I felt I’d had too much vodka.

The funny thing, is that all the time waiting to grow up so I could do all the grown-up things that looked so cool, provided me with the opportunity to actually grow up and realise that I’d rather actually have fun than just pretend to. Sure, it’s probably quite lame that I’ve spent tonight (a Friday night) with a cup of tea instead of a glass of jaeger, but at the same time, the occasional Friday-night is completely necessary, crucial even- to maintaining your sanity. The most dangerous situation I have put myself in is almost spilling a bottle of soy sauce all over my bed, and the closest I got to vomiting was unnecessarily finishing my prawn curry, having already wolfed down prawn toast, spring rolls and sweetcorn soup (man it was delicious.) Ultimately, being a Grandpa every now and again is good for your mind, body and soul, so there should be no stigma attached to it. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but something to celebrate!

I am an 18-year old Grandpa and proud (but then again, the chav at the bottom of the road can boast the same, though in a slightly different context.)