Categories
Travel

The Granfields stay at Freycinet eco lodge in Tasmania

It had been two years to the day since The Granfields’ wedding and to celebrate they had booked a stay at an exclusive eco lodge on the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania.

Matt: Hey Darling, look how lovely this is, what a nice cabin.

Bec: What’s that smell?

Matt: What smell?

Bec: I think it’s, like outdoorsy.

Matt: Do you mean fresh air?

Bec: Yes, I think that’s it.

Matt: This is a very exclusive eco lodge you know.

Bec: When you say ‘exclusive’, what do you mean.

Matt: I mean, it’s quite special. It’s in the national park.

Bec: But anyone can stay here right?

Matt: Well, yes, I suppose so.

Bec: So it’s exclusive to anyone who is staying here at the moment, anyone who has ever stayed here, and anyone who ever will stay here.

Matt: It has a lovely view of the bay, look out the window.

Bec: I can’t see the water, there are too many exclusive American tourists in the way.

Matt: How do you they are American?

Bec: I can hear them.

Matt: Well, the place had very good reviews on Tripadvisor.

Bec: Yes, I was reading Tripadvisor reviews of Freycinet. One American tourist had given the lookout a one star review because no one told him there were steps.

Matt: There are only two steps to our front door. I’m sure he would give this lodge a very good review.

Bec: Where’s the TV?

Matt: There is no TV. It’s an eco lodge.

Bec: I thought ‘eco’ meant ‘environmentally friendly’, not ‘environmentally boring’.

Matt: You don’t need a TV. We are at one with nature.

Bec: I don’t want to be at one with nature. I want to be at one with The Bachelor.

Matt: I thought that had finished?

Bec: There’s an exclusive interview tonight on The Project. Blake explains why he broke up with Sam so quickly after their TV engagement.

Matt: Maybe because he realised that after they had been married for two years he would have to explain to her that eco lodges didn’t have TVs.

Bec: I can’t believe there’s no TV.

Matt: They have some very nice hand cream in the bathroom.

Bec: See if you can use the hand cream to pick up Channel Ten then.

Categories
Featured Travel

The secrets of Sea World in the off season

Chick on entrance booth: That’ll be a hundred and sixty dollars

Matt: Oh, sorry, I think you’ve misunderstood, I didn’t want to pay for the busload of Japanese tourists who are standing over there in the car park next to the bus. It’s just me and Rebecca here.

Chick on entrance booth: Yes, it’s eighty dollars each.

Matt: Really? We’re only really coming to do the ‘swim with the dolphins’ thing I bought Bec for her birthday. I’ve already paid for that. Is it really a hundred and sixty dollars on top of that, just to get in?

Chick on entrance booth: Yes.

Matt: I didn’t realise a dolphin was included in that price. I really don’t have room in my car for a dolphin. I’d have to put the back seats down and last time I did that I had to put a ladder in and it got a bit of rust on the leather. I don’t really want dolphin on the leather. Imagine what my left-leaning friends would say if they knew I had dolphin stains on the leather.

Chick on entrance booth: The price doesn’t include a dolphin. You get a photo of the experience though. That’s included.

Bec: OK. It’s raining though. Are all the rides open?

Chick on entrance booth: *cough*

Bec: What do you mean “*cough*”?

Chick: Well, some of the park is currently being improved for the future enjoyment of guests.

Matt: Define “some of the park”.

Chick: It’s only some of the park.

Matt: Is the corkscrew open?

Chick: What’s the corkscrew?

Matt: The roller coaster.

Chick: Oh, it’s called the something else now.

Me: Is the something else open?

Chick: Not in the rain, no.

Bec: OK. What about the water ski stunt show? Will that be on?

Chick: No. During the winter months it’s usually a bit quiet, and management like to keep costs down, so we sack the water ski stunt team and put a sign on the ramp where they do some of the stunts saying that the particular section of the park involved in the stunt show is being improved for your future enjoyment.

Matt: Is the pirate ship operating? I don’t even like rides really, but I need to make Rebecca here think I’m at least a little bit manly, so if the roller coaster is out of action I’m going to need to pull something else.

Chick: No, we shut that down a few years ago after someone died when they were upside down and a mobile phone fell out of their pocket and into their mouth. They choked.

Bec: OK. What about that Bermuda Triangle thing, the boat ride thing with the flames. Is that open?

Chick: No, that is being improved for your future enjoyment.

Bec: I see. Are the polar bears still here?

Chick: We have four polar bears.

Bec: And how many are here, on display.

Chick: We don’t like to refer to them as being ‘on display’.

Bec: How do you refer to them?

Chick: We refer to them as being here for the present enjoyment of guests, as proudly brought to you by Coca Cola.

Bec: How many are here for the present enjoyment of the guests?

Chick: One. It sleeps in a cave at the back of the exhibit for most of the day.

Matt: Are the water slides open?

Chick: The water slides are closed for winter.

Bec: Are there any rides open?

Chick: There’s a merry go round.

Matt: Is it an extreme merry go round?

Chick: It’s a normal one. There may be some vomit on it.

Bec: Is that it? Is that all the rides?

Chick: The jet ski wussy roller coaster thing may operate if it stops raining.

Matt: What’s that?

Chick: It’s like a wussy roller coaster on the ground.

Bec: Is it safe? We don’t want a mobile phone choking us to death.

Chick: You aren’t allowed to take mobile phones on the ride.

Bec: What am I supposed to do with my mobile phone?

Chick: You can hire a locker. Lockers are available next to each ride.

Bec: How much are the lockers?

Chick: Eight dollars.

Bec: For the day?

Chick: For an hour.

Bec: How much do you get paid?

Chick: Less than that.

Bec: I thought so.

Chick: Would you like to purchase a VIP yearly ticket to Sea World for only $119?

Matt: What does that get us?

Chick: You get VIP entry to Sea World and a cup.

Matt: What is VIP entry?

Chick: Instead of queuing with everyone else you go in the VIP entry.

Bec: Where is that?

Chick: Here

Matt: No thank you.

Chick: OK

Bec: Oh bugger, I’ve forgotten my towel. I’ll have to go back and get it.

Chick: You’ll have to back out through the gift shop exit.

Matt: Actually, that works out, I forgot to bring sun screen. On the off chance that the sun comes out, am I able to buy sun screen from the gift shop?

Chick: No. The sun screen section of the gift shop is being improved for your future enjoyment.

Matt: I see. What exactly does the gift shop sell then?

Chick: Cups, and ‘My Family’ stickers.

Matt: OK. Is there any part of Sea World that is not currently being improved for my future enjoyment?

Chick: *thinks*

Bec: Is there a seal show?

Chick: Yes. There is a seal show.

Matt: What time is that on?

Chick: When is your dolphin swim experience thing?

Bec: 2.30pm

Chick: The seal show starts at 2.30pm.

Bec: Right.

Chick: Oh, do you like penguins?

Bec: I guess so.

Chick: The penguin experience is open.

Bec: What’s the penguin experience?

Chick: It’s some penguins in a swimming pool with some badly painted pictures of icebergs in the background and a bunch of penguin facts stuck to a wall. It’s very interactive.

Bec: What’s interactive about it?

Chick: You get to see some penguins interacting with each other in a swimming pool.

Bec: Is that your way of saying they may have a fight, or have sex, or something interesting?

Chick: No, they mostly sit in a corner and ignore everyone.

Bec: Is that what you’d like to be doing right now?

Chick: Yes.

Matt: OK, can I pay by credit card?

Chick: Yes, but there’s a $5.95 fee.

Matt: Oh, OK, well, I’ll pay by EFTPOS then.

Chick: OK, that’ll be $160, plus a $4.95 EFTPOS fee.

Matt: Is there anything in this theme park that doesn’t come with a hidden fee?

Chick: Yes. There’s a picture of some whales over in the back of the park near the smoking area. That is free to look at.

Matt: OK, how do I get there?

Chick: You take the monorail, return tickets are $10.

Categories
Featured Travel

The Granfields go on holidays to 1770 (and meet some German backpackers, and some history)

Bec: Now, we need to set some ground rules for this road trip.

Matt: Yes we do. As driver, I’m in charge of the windows. I pick up or down. If the windows are down at speeds greater than 60km/h I find it distracting.

Bec: Molly gets anxiety, and likes the window down so she can sniff things. Thus, if she’s on my lap – I get to choose when the window goes down.

Matt: Sure. As long as it doesn’t annoy me. *click*

Bec: What was that clicking sound?

Matt: Nothing.

Bec: Have you put the child lock on the window?

Matt: Nope.

Bec: Why won’t the window go down?

Matt: Maybe it’s broken.

Bec: Turn the child lock off please. You promised! I want the window down!

Matt: It’s too distracting and I’ll crash. Don’t you want us to be safe?

Bec: You perving on the Swedish backpackers in Wicked Campers you always look at will make us crash, not a window being down.

Matt: Um, I think you’ll find they’re German. You can tell by their accents.

Bec: How can you hear their accents?

Matt: I heard them at the last petrol station. They were talking about how lonely they were in Australia and how attractive all the men were. Particularly the ones with close cropped haircuts.

Bec: You mean bald men?

Matt: I prefer to think of us as mean with closely-cropped haircuts. It means we have lots of testosterone you know.

Bec: If you don’t unlock this window right now, I can promise you you’ll be wishing you had a Wicked Camper to sleep in, because there’s no way you’ll be staying the house with Molly and I.

Matt: *unclick*

Seven hours later, Bec and Matt arrive in 1770. Bec has a nap. Matt goes fishing. Several hours later, Matt returns.

Matt: So, while you’ve been napping, I’ve been out fishing in my boat.

Bec: When did you buy a boat? I thought we agreed no boats until we paid off the house.

Matt: ‘Boat’ was an aspirational adjective. I was just in the canoe. Anyway. So I caught a MASSIVE fish.

Bec: Is it in that bucket? Are you on tonight’s ‘Coastwatch’?

Matt: No, it was SO massive, I was worried it might have actually been a previously-undiscovered species of whale, so I let it go.

Bec: Wise decision. It might have sunk the ‘boat’, right?

Matt: No. I was going to keep it, but then The Sea Shepherd appeared and started trying to board. I left my water cannon at home and had no way to repel them, so I threw it back and pretended I was doing some science, just in case.

Bec: Was your ‘science’ an experiment to see the affects of sunburn and fish smell on the male human sex life? If so, I fear the results may alarm you.

Matt: You won’t be joking when I bring us home dinner. Either way, did you see the cairn?

Bec: What?

Matt: You can just see it out the window. Look, up on the hill.

Bec: I’m not falling for that. Cairns is about a thousand kilometres away. Even I know that.

Matt: No, the cairn. Commemorating Cook’s landing in 1770.

Bec: You know how much I love history.

Matt: Yes. Did you see the cairn? It’s a like a pyramid.

Bec: No. But that does sound kind of interesting I suppose. I always wanted to see the pyramids.

Matt: It was built in 1970. They raised the money for it in less than a month.

Bec: Wow. That’s actually impressive considering the pyramids took thousands of years to build. So where is it? I can’t see it.

Matt: There, see. Up on the hill.

Bec: I can’t see a pyramid.

Matt: It’s not a pyramid, it’s a cairn. You need to lower your expectations.

Bec: I can’t see it.

Matt: Up there.

Bec: That thing that looks like it’s about one metre high? How did Captain Cook land all the way up there on the hill?

Matt: He didn’t specifically land there. It’s just a commemorative cairn indicating the fact that Cook landed somewhere near the Town of 1770 in the year 1770.

Bec: Had he run out of place names by then? Or was this the only place he discovered that year?

Matt: No, the town was named 1770 in 1970. Before that it was called ‘Round Hill’.

Bec: Well that’s infinitely more interesting then. Either way, that just looks like a pile of rocks, not the pyramid you promised.

Matt: It’s not just a pile of rocks. It’s a very important piece of history.

Bec: What makes it different from any other pile of rocks?

Matt: It has a plaque.

Categories
Featured Travel

Bec gets scared she’ll be raped by bikies at a Paul Simon concert at a hotel in Newcastle

They had driven from Toowoomba to the Hunter Valley for a Paul Simon concert and booked a lovely B&B for a romantic Easter long weekend. At the last minute the concert was moved to Newcastle. Luckily, Matt was able to find some accommodation close to the new venue. It wasn’t quite the Hilton.

Matt: Oh my god, this is so exciting Darling! Paul Simon tonight, and because we’re so close to the Entertainment Centre we can have a few drinks and walk home!

Bec: Yep.

Matt: What do you mean ‘yep’, aren’t you excited? It’s Paul Simon! You’ve always wanted to see Paul Simon, and now we’re here. You should be excited! I’m excited!

Bec: Yep.

Matt: The venue is just across the train lines there. You can just about see it.

Bec: My feet are sticking to the floor.

Matt: That’s the sign of a good hotel. If your feet stick to the carpet, you know it’s popular.

Bec: This isn’t a hotel. This is a pub.

Matt: A pub is technically a hotel. And besides, it’s a nice pub.

Bec: What’s the difference between a Hells Angel and a Commanchero?

Matt: I don’t know. Is that a joke?

Bec: No, a bunch of them just walked in. I want to know who I’m being raped by.

Matt: I think you’ve got your worst case scenario thinking pants on again Sweetheart. Nobody is going to rape you.

Bec: Well, you certainly won’t be going there tonight. I bet the bed has fleas. Have you seen Young Einstein? That’s what our room will look like. I’m not taking my jeans off.

Matt: Nope, it will be lovely. I’ll get the manager so he can show us the room.

Bar Chick: What are you drinking?

Matt: Yes, hello. We have a room booked under the name Granfield.

Bar Chick: A what?

Matt: A room. Granfield. I booked on the website?

Bar Chick: What website?

Matt: Your website.

Bar Chick: We have a website?

Matt: Yes.

Bar Chick: I’ll go and get the manager.

Bec: Stop looking at her boobs.

Matt: I wasn’t looking at her boobs.

Bec: You had to have been looking at her boobs. She was topless. I can’t believe we’re staying in a topless bar. I’m not staying here. I’ll drive home.

Matt: It will be fine.

Manager: Hello.

Matt: Yes, hello. We booked a room on the website. Under the name Granfield.

Manager: Oh yes.

Matt: I was wondering if we could have the key please.

Manager: Hmm.

Matt: Would that be OK?

Manager: Yes, I’ll just have to find the key.

Matt: OK.

Bec: That’s not a good sign.

Matt: It’s fine. He’s just going to find the key.

Manager: I can’t find the key.

Matt: I see.

Manager: It’s all good though. The door doesn’t lock anyway.

Matt: OK.

Manager: Follow me. The room’s upstairs.

Matt: OK.

Bec: Oh god. Don’t even think about checking into this ‘hotel’ on Facebook. If Dad sees it he’ll kill you.

Matt: It’s all good. I should warn you though, I didn’t want to say anything earlier, but often in hotels like this…

Bec: You mean biker pubs like this.

Matt: Often in hotels like this, there won’t be a bathroom or toilet in the room. So we’ll have to share with the other guests.

Bec: I love how you choose to tell me that now. You’re like walking fine print.

Manager: So here’s the toilet. And if you follow me down the hall a bit… The shower is in this, well, cupboard here… And then the room is at the end of the hall there. Are you OK with a twin room? You’re not on your honeymoon or anything?

Bec: A twin room is fine. I can tell you right now, we won’t be having s…

Matt: Soap.

Manager: Yep, that’s on the pillows. Any other questions?

Bec: Whispering to Matt – If the soap is used, we’re leaving.

Matt: No, I think we’re all good. Thank you very much.

Manager: Righto then. Just, well, I’ll see you in the morning.

Matt: OK

Bec: How much did we pay for this place?

Matt: $120. It was the closest hotel to the Entertainment Centre. The website said it was located in an ‘entertainment hub’.

Bec:  Yes, if you like trainspotting and fist fights between rival motorcycle gangs.

Matt: C’mon, let’s just dump our stuff and get some food. There was a bistro downstairs.

Bec: We’re not eating here. I’m going to the bathroom. While I’m gone, get on Urban Spoon and find somewhere to have dinner.

Matt: OK.

Bec: I’m back.

Matt: That was quick.

Bec: There was blood on the hand basin. I couldn’t even wash my hands.

Matt: I’m sure it wasn’t blood.

Bec: OK. Maybe it was tomato sauce.

Matt: Let me check it out. I need to wee anyway.

Bec: You always need to wee.

Matt: It wasn’t blood.

Bec: What was it then?

Matt: It was just a chip in the vanity top. I think it was once painted red.

Bec: We’re not staying here. What if I have to go to the toilet in the middle of the night?

Matt: I thought you said you weren’t taking your jeans off?

Bec: Ha ha. I’m not going to the toilet in the middle of the night here. I’ll get raped.

Matt: There’s a servo over the road. I’ll go and buy you a bucket. You can wee in that.

Bec: Really?

Matt: Why not?

Bec: OK.

Matt: While I’m gone, you can check for cockroaches.

Matt: I’m back. I got you a yellow bucket.

Bec: Well, do you want the good news?

Matt: Sure!

Bec: There’s no cockroaches.

Matt: See! I told you.

Bec: The bed is full of ants though.

Matt: No it’s not.

Bec: Yes it is. See.

Matt: That’s not full of ants. There’s only like…. Ten of them. Eleven. Maybe fifteen.

Bec: They’re eating something with hair on it.

Matt: I’ll drive home tonight.

Bec: I thought you might.

Categories
Travel

Mosquito number 17.

Mosquito #17

It had been a pleasant drive. Five hours from Toowoomba to Armidale. The poplars of the New England Highway flickering in the Autumn sunset. Spotify had been on ‘folk’ for much of the time, except for when Bec wasn’t looking and Matt had created a Skrillex playlist. Matt had weed only 17 times, Bec had secured her pillows properly on the back seat, so they wouldn’t be (according to Matt) “decapitating missiles”. They were making great time, and nearing a guesthouse where they had arranged an overnight stay.

Bec: Let’s just call to confirm the booking.

Matt: I booked online last night, I’ve got the confirmation number. It’ll be fine.

Bec: OK … Do you have anything interesting to talk about?

Matt: No. Well actually, do you know much about Armidale? Could you please Google it and find out some of the history? I think it’s a very historic town. They had a bushranger there called Captain Moonshine. He made beer for all the men of the forest and stole money from the Sheriff to give to the brewery. He lived in a cave called ‘Captain Morgan’s Cave’.

Bec: Wow. How interesting. I’ll give the guesthouse a call.

Turns out the homestead hadn’t received the booking, due to an internet problem, but a room was available. Matt and Bec arrived, had three courses of wine with a side of dinner, then collapsed into bed.

Bec: Pssst. Darling, wake up! There’s a mosquito!

Matt: Huh? What? You want to have sex?

Bec: No, there’s a mosquito.

Matt: Maybe if we have sex you won’t notice it.

Bec: _____________.

Matt: Okay, where is it?

Bec: There! Up near the roof.

Matt: This ridiculously ornate ceiling is too high. I’ll never reach it. I thought in olden days people were supposed to be little. Like Paul Simon.

After fifteen minutes of chasing mosquitoes around the room with a rolled up sock (Matt attests 15 seconds), about three mosquitoes were killed.

Matt: There’s another one!  Oh god. They’re everywhere.

Bec: Arrrgh. Maybe we can turn the fan on high over the bed, so at least they won’t come near our faces and we can sleep?

Bec goes to turn the fan on, but it doesn’t work. She resumes scowling in bed / contributing significantly (depending on who you talk to).

Bec: Matt, one’s here!

Matt: Shhh!

Bec: But it’s here!

Matt: Shhh! I can’t hear it if you’re talking.

Bec: Where are they coming from?

Matt: Less yakking, more attacking.

Matt: I think I spotte…

Bec and Matt eventually get tired of yelling at each other swatting mosquitoes, and go to bed.

They wake at 8.00am. Or rather, Matt wakes at 8.00am…

Bec: Ugggggh. I’ve had zero sleep. I feel like shit. I look like shit.

Matt: I got some sleep. I feel pretty good.

Bec: When are you next lecturing on empathy? I feel it’s a strength of yours.

Matt: Don’t you care that I feel OK? I have to drive to the Hunter Valley today. I thought you’d be happy I was in good shape and high spirits.

Bec: Sorry darling. I’m glad you’re okay. I tried to pull the sheet over me to protect myself from the stupid things, but I couldn’t breathe. It was suffocating.

Matt: I did the same, but I made a breathing apparatus.

Bec: Of course you did.

At breakfast they agree to make a complaint to the manager, and head back to the room beforehand, to pack up.

Bec: There must be at least 17 mosquitoes squashed on the walls, and that’s just the ones on the walls. Make sure you videotape all the squash marks, so if we end up slamming them on Trip Advisor, we can’t be done for defamation.

Matt: That’s not going to happen.

Bec: We could end up in jail if there’s no evidence!

Matt: For writing a bad review? Don’t be silly.

Bec: You can make the video recording and do all the commentary and jokes?

Matt: Okay!

Two nights afterwards Matt takes Bec to a hotel room, in a pub, that prompts Bec to consider buying a bucket. To be continued.

Categories
Travel

The Amalfi Coast

Bec and Matt head to the beach in Amalfi

It was 9:15am and, in her apparent commitment to extinguishing all trace of her wedding dress diet/general health and well-being, Bec had just finished her first gelato for the day. The following conversation then took place.

Bec: Let’s go to the beach. We’re in Amalfi, let’s go to the beach.

Matt: OK.

Bec: Let’s get some beach chairs.

Matt: OK.

Bec: There’s a man with some beach chairs for rent. Let’s rent some beach chairs from him.

Matt: I think it’s a scam.

Bec: Why do you think it’s a scam?

Matt: Because beach chairs should be free.

Bec: Why should they be free?

Matt: Because it’s a beach. Beaches should be free.

Bec: But someone has to pack up the chairs and clean them and things.

Matt: OK.

Beach Chair Man: You want chair?

Matt: Cuánto?

Beach Chair Man: Excuse me?

Matt: Cuánto?

Beach Chair Man: Do you speak English?

Matt: I’m speaking Italian.

Beach Chair Man: No, you’re speaking Spanish.

Matt: Me parlo Italiano.

Beach Chair Man: Vuoi una sedia? Sono dieci Euro.

Matt: I don’t understand.

Beach Chair Man: The chairs are ten Euro.

Matt: That’s a lot for a chair.

Bec: Darling! Just get the chairs.

Beach Chair Man: It is ten Euro for two chairs. And you can use the toilet and the showers as well.

Matt: OK

Bec: Let’s go sit over there.

Matt: OK. I’m going to go to the toilet.

Bec: Hey, so, before you go, can I see your birth certificate? You just went to the toilet in the hotel. I want to be sure I haven’t married a three-year-old.

Matt: I have to go again.

*Two minutes later*

Matt: I’m back.

Bec: What’s that wet patch on the front of your shorts?

Matt: Nothing.

Bec: Is that wee?

Matt: No.

Bec: Are you not wearing any underwear?

Matt: Look, the man is coming.

Bec: What man?

Matt: The Beach Chair Man. He’s holding a piece of paper.

Beach Chair Man: Here you go. For you.

Matt: Is this a receipt for the chairs?

Bec: It’s a fine for weeing on your shorts.

Categories
Travel

Pompeii

Bec

Bec wouldn’t pose for any photos in Pompeii, so here’s one of her looking much happier in Venice

This is the story of me being a bitch at Pompeii. I was a bitch, but only because I find history boring, and I love eating. (N.B. Just to clarify I don’t really hate history, but I’d prefer to be talking with people and sharing good food and wine, than staring at old buildings or dirt – I’m not an archeologist. And; earlier in our honeymoon I concluded that if I can Google Image Search it, I’m not interested in standing in front of it, trying for a glimpse or photograph, and/or trying to avoid reaching second-base [Matt’s note: Second base is further than I got that day] with at least one of the 100,000 tourists competing for what I can view on my iPhone). I want cultural experiences – the view, sounds, tastes, feelings, smells (bacon), and conversation.

Matt knew this, because the day before we caught a train to Naples (from Florence) so I could eat a pizza. It was amazing and worth the train trip, expensive hotel room, and the litres of urine that lapped our Converse on Naples’ back streets as we walked to and from the pizzeria.

I digress. Matt decided on the way to Amalfi (pizza, gelato, limoncello etc.) that we should “pop into Pompeii”, because it’d “only take half an hour”.

Instead it took two, because we didn’t pay €700 for a map or ear-wax-decorated talking headset, got lost, and it turns out Pompeii is a city, not an apartment.

Post-lunch time, I couldn’t feign any more interest in looking at this:

The most interesting shot we could find of Pompeii

..and wanted the appropriately timed meal, so when Matt asked if there was anything there I found interesting, I offered “No”. My delivery was in the style of what he calls ‘Anti-Tout Face’ which to that point, had proven 100% successful in deterring sellers of ‘genuine’ Ray Bans and Louis Vuitton luggage from approaching us, in all cities. Basically it involves me looking blankly with my blunt-cut fringe and ski-jump nose. Alternatively, imagine what Oscar losers look like when they’re caught off guard. Without the bulimia.

He did not respond favourably.

He yelled. I yelled. I was “selfish”. He was a “jerk”. “Fuck” “fuck” “fuck”. This exchange was far more entertaining than my surrounds, so it didn’t bother me. Also; we got to leave.

Afterwards I explained to Matt that visiting Pompeii provided me as much entertainment as visiting a Kardashian home would for both of us. He kind of understood. Hashtag fact: You can’t like what you don’t.

Usually Matt is far more tolerant of my history aversion, and preference for eating above all other activities, however I think I’d pushed him to his limit, after getting upset with him earlier on our honeymoon, for weeing too much. Which was another totally rational reason to be upset. Now, Matt wants to blog about boring history…

Matt

For 500 or so years no one in ancient Pompeii looked at the giant volcano-shaped mountain behind them and thought “isn’t it a bit strange that we’re getting all these earthquakes, maybe we should live somewhere else instead of under a giant volcano-shaped mountain”. Even if you look at it now the mountain is unnerving. And imposing. It’s so high up there it snows, even though Mt Vesuvius is so far South in Italy it’s practically in Africa. In fact there are so many African men touting Gucci sunglasses and carrying Luis Vuitton handbags outside Pompeii that if you arrived in Pompeii as a blind person and the volcanic air miraculously cured you of your blindness you would think you WERE in Africa. A very gay part of Africa.

According to Wikipedia Mt Vesuvius is ‘the world’s most dangerous active volcano’ because it erupts spectacularly approximately every 50 years and lots of people live nearby. In 79AD ancient Pompeii was a city of 25,000 people. Now, in 2012, ancient Pompeii is a city of 4 million people. It’s not called ‘Ancient Pompeii’ anymore though, it’s called Naples, and it’s the birthplace of pizza. The official story is that sometime circa 1850 the Napolitans began adding tomato puree and melted cheese to their flat bread to make it more palatable. The most likely explanation is that they were forced to invent pizza because their normal sandwiches kept getting flattened by cheese-melting, lunch-ruining volcanic eruptions, and they figured they might as well cut to the chase, pre-melt the cheese, pre-flatten the bread and give themselves more time to run when Mt Vesuvius inevitably went nuts.

Rebecca wanted to call this post: ‘Why you shouldn’t take someone who has no interest in history, is worried about getting skin cancer, and likes to eat main meals at main meal times, to an historical monument, on a 35 degree day for two hours, in place of lunch.’ We settled, in the interests of brevity, on ‘Pompeii’.

There are two morals to this story:

  1. Mt Vesuvius ruins lunch
  2. Don’t ruin Rebecca’s lunch
Categories
Travel

Berlin to Prague, First Class

American Woman: DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?
German backpacker waiting on platform of Berlin Hauptbanhoff for train to Prague: Yes
American Woman: FIRST CLASS! DO YOU KNOW WHERE IS FIRST CLASS?
German backpacker: No, sorry
American Woman: We’ve been trying to find first class. No one knows where first class is
Me: Excuse me, sorry, I overheard you asking, the first class carriage will stop in section E
American Woman: YOU SPEAK ENGLISH!
Me: Yes, I’ve even been to England
American Woman: DO YOU KNOW WHERE IS FIRST CLASS. FIRST CLASS?
Me: Yes, there’s a sign up here, it shows you, see – you need to go and wait over there in section E.
American Woman: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, I have a first class ticket too. It says carriage 262, and the sign says that carriage 262 stops in section E.
American Woman: Why aren’t you waiting there then?
Me: Because there aren’t any seats up there on the platform.
American Woman: It doesn’t look very first class.
Me: You don’t sound very first class
American Woman: I didn’t hear you
Me: Nothing

American Man trying to figure out what carriage to get on when train arrives: IS THIS FIRST CLASS? I CAN’T SEE.
German tourist who has no idea how to speak English: I don’t know
American Man: DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE CARRIAGE 262 IS? ANYONE? THAT LOOKS LIKE THE FIRST CLASS DINING CAR. CAN WE SIT IN THERE?
Me: Hey mate, carriage 262 is just here, see the sign there, on the door, where it says 262
American Man talking to friend: IT’S RIGHT HERE. 262 IS RIGHT HERE. THE MAN SAYS IT’S HERE. Thank you.
Me: No worries
American Man: Do they speak English on the train?
Me: I imagine they will speak a little bit of English
American Man: Why doesn’t anybody speak English
Me: I speak English
American Man: But none of the staff. Why don’t they speak English.
Me: Because we’re in Germany

Categories
Travel

What are the best bars in Brisbane?

Maths B. It’s a painful Queensland high school subject full of algebra and equations and other nonsense which is useless to you unless you’re planning a career as a high school Maths B teacher. No-one has used Maths B in real life. I have engineer friends who design the plaques which go on the bridges that older, more-experienced senior engineers design, and they assure me that neither they, nor the people who actually build bridges use Maths B. Which is why I didn’t study Maths B. I studied dummy maths. In dummy maths I spent two years flirting with, and when Mr Day wasn’t looking, pashing, Ineke Kay, drawing pictures of guitars on pencil cases and using sceintific calculators to solve unscientific problems. Like how to do your tax return. I did my tax return the other day. I calculated depreciation on a WRX. I got a f***-tonne of money back from the Government. Dummy maths is awesome.

English, also, is awesome. I knew I was going to be good at English from a very early age because I could already read better than the grade three kids when I started kindy. I could read better than them because mum and dad wouldn’t let me watch He-Man on Saturday mornings because it was Satanic, so I had to get books out from the library and flip through them instead. Luckily they didn’t know about Judy Blume. I also knew I was going to be good at English because in grade four they put me in a special class with the grade five kids who wore thick-rimmed glasses (before they were such things as hipsters to make them cool) and every Thursday afternoon we went on excursions and talked to park rangers while the other kids who weren’t as good at English as us had to learn about vowels. That was awesome because, although I didn’t realise I was actually in an over-achieving Thursday afternoon nerd-group at the time, I was the least-nerdiest in the group, so I never got beaten up in the bus lines when we got back late from the beach, or the mayor’s office, or the box factory. Seeing at an early age where being good at English could take you, I vowed to always be good at English, no matter what. To be honest, it hasn’t paid off much, relatively speaking, in the years since. Getting out of school early to go on an excursion each Thursday has taken some beating in the grand scheme of awesomeness-relativity. But then, the other day, my faith was restored when Matty, the editor of a gourmet travel book thing called me up and we had the following conversation:

Matty: Hey Matt.

Me: Hey Matty.

Matty: You live in Brisbane, I need you write an article on the best bars in Brisbane for our Welcome To guide to Australia. It goes in all the luxury hotels. Tell me which bars you want to go to and I’ll let them know you’re coming and they’ll give you free drinks. I don’t need the article for a month or so, so there’s plenty of time, no tight deadline or anything like that, just do it at your leisure. They only need to be short reviews too, about 60 words each. Also, you need to go to classy bars, so spare no expense. Are you interested?

Me: No that doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in.

Matty: OK. That’s a joke isn’t it.

Me: Yes.

Matty: OK.

Me: I’m going to need to publish the bar reviews on my blog though. I did my own tax return this year and I claimed heaps of ‘staff entertainment’ expenses and if I get audited I’m screwed, so if I can say I did all this ‘research’ I might not go to jail just yet. Unless they look at my car depreciation expenses, which are so incorrect they may have messed up the space-time continuum. If they look at my car depreciation expenses, I may need you to post bail. Would you do that for me?

Matty: You should have done smart maths in high school. You’d be better at doing things like calculating depreciation.

Me: I know.

Matty: OK. The gourmet travel book thing doesn’t come out until January anyway so that’s OK, you can put the reviews on your blog.

Me: OK.


Salon

http://www.salonlounge.net/
110 Macquarie St, Teneriffe
Ph: 07 3252 3911

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, a Spanish colony off the east coast of Africa. Admiral Horatio Nelson visited there briefly in 1797 and lost his arm when the Spanish Armada shot him with a cannon. If you happen to have only one arm, and enough time/money for only one drink in Brisbane, go to Teneriffe and order a ‘Madame Brussels’. It is your duty.

Limes Hotel

http://www.limeshotel.com.au/rooftopbar/
142 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3852 9000

Cinderella would love this place. The divine wine list and starry rooftop view are enough to make you want to stay all night, which is handy, because if there are any rooms still available in this boutique hotel after the clock strikes 12, they’re offered up for only $99. The crowd is hot too; no ugly step sisters here.

Cloudland

http://www.cloudland.tv/
Anne Street, Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3872 6600

If Darth Vader, Christian Dior, and Dr Livingstone walked into a bar, this would be it, I presume. If you can look past the neo-deco Deathstar façade you’ll find the most opulent place to sip lager in Brisbane. Beware though, of butterflies attempting to breach your sauvignon blanc.

Cru Bar

http://www.crubar.com/
22 James St, New Farm
Ph: 07 3252 2400

Home to one of the best wine cellars in town, Cru Bar is the place to make wrinkly movements with your nose, tell your friends which side of the hill the grapes were grown on and then quickly change the subject before anyone knows you’re making it all up. It’s also a great place for a sunny late-afternoon bru.

Siana

http://www.sianacity.com.au/
71 Eagle Street, Brisbane
Ph: 07 3221 3887

Watch the stars rise over the Story Bridge and drink in one of the best views Brisbane city has to offer. The cocktails are heavenly, but the world-class Asian menu is the real drawcard, with more delightful creations than you can (delicately) poke a chopstick at.

Greystone Bar and Cellar

http://www.greystonebar.com.au/
7/166 Grey Street, Southbank
Ph: 07 3846 6990

Southbank is home to a fake sandy beach that was popular in the 1990s, a former iMax theatre and some impressive, but fading cultural remnants of World Expo 88. If it all sounds a bit has-been that’s because it was. But now it’s hip again. So it’s OK. It’s also the perfect suburb to stash the kids while you work your way through Greystone’s impressive wine list – 150 varieties at last count.

Watt Restaurant and Bar

http://www.aihgroup.com.au/watt
Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington St New Farm
Ph: 07 3358 5464

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, everyone in Brisbane is either picnicking in New Farm park, or watching everyone picnic in New Farm park from the riverside balcony of Watt. Frock up and then freak out with some free comedy in the renovated Power Station slash arts precinct upstairs.

AllOneWord

http://www.alloneword.com.au/
188 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Ph: You don’t need a phone number when you’re this cool

Hiding up the wrong end of Brunswick Street, AllOneWord is just a year old, but has quickly managed to find the style bar and set it high. The street-art décor is a real prize for the eyes, and the talented bar staff know their way around a martini glass.

Fridays

http://www.fridays.com.au/
123 Eagle St, Brisbane
Ph: 07 3832 2122

You could go there on another night of the week of course, but you’d be missing out on a Brisbane cultural institution. Loosen your tie, hide your heels in your handbag and drink in the river views with the CBD’s up-and-coming pretty young professionals.

Belgian Beer Café Brussels

http://www.belgianbeercafebrussels.com.au/
Cnr Mary and Edward Streets, Brisbane
Ph: 07 3221 0199

Why do Queenslanders drink XXXX? Because they can’t spell B-E-E-R. Or so the pun unfolds. It’s a fallacy of course. The Belgian Beer Café Brussels is proof enough that Brisvegans love their bubbles. Book in for a beer-appreciation class and find out why.

The Bowery

http://www.thebowery.com.au/
676 Ann St, Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3252 0202

It hasn’t got the décor of Cloudland, or the decorum of Siana, but when you want to kick your heels up and party like it’s 1929, The Bowery swings better than any bar in Brisbane. It didn’t win Australian Gourmet Traveller awarded it 2009’s ‘Bar of the Year’ for being boring.

Lychee Lounge

http://www.lycheelounge.com.au/
94 Boundary Street, West End
Ph: 07 3846 0544

The Lychee Lounge prides itself as the jewel of West End, Brisbane’s thriving hub of alternative culture. And like it’s London namesake, this West End is a little bit of theatre unto itself. Drop your tastebuds, one-by-one, into one of the best cocktail menus in Queensland and watch the show go by on the streets outside. Watch out for angry vegans dizzy from a lack of protein though. They might suddenly snap and make you their next meal. Only kidding. Maybe.