Chapter 18: Fish and Chips

World's longest detour to London, but happy to visit the mother land.

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Friday, October 22nd

Mike and I grabbed breakfast in the hotel lobby, semi-packed our stuff, and headed to Positano before lunch. Like Amalfi, Positano is a vertical beach town built into the seaside cliffs. However, the town was bigger, the beaches were nicer, and the food was richer. We chowed down on some ‘za (#23? #24? idk. I’ve consumed a lot of carbs here) by the beach and explored for a bit.

A newly-wed couple was sitting next to us in the restaurant, and they said Sorrento was tight. Another town on the coast of Italy, Sorrento was a popular tourist spot with tons of shops, bars, and restaurants. Around 5:00, we headed that way. While we had a hotel in Amalfi, there was no way that we were driving on those winding roads after going out in Sorrento. Luckily, cars make great beds.

The plan was simple: spend Friday night in a cool town, sleep in the car in the parking deck like a couple of vagabonds, scoop our stuff in the AM on the way back to Naples.

The streets of Sorrento were gorgeous. Christmas lights were already set up, and the city was bustling. We found an Irish pub on one of these jolly streets and decided to check it out. Good beer on tap, Premiere League on TV, and a few dozen Irish tourists inside. This place checked all the boxes.

I never realized that Irish people actually frequented Irish pubs so much while traveling. I asked a couple of girls where they were from, and they said “Ireland, obviously. It’s a damn Irish pub ya know.” Touché.

We grabbed some seats next to a couple of Irish girls (Shone and Caroline) and a British guy (Daniel) who was visiting the Amalfi coast with his mother.

Daniel, if you’re reading this I’m kicking myself for forgetting your mom’s name. She’s a saint.

Daniel’s mom was a hoot, lemme tell ya. British people have developed an acute sense sarcasm. As an avid speaker of sarcasm myself, I could really let it flow around them. When Daniel’s mom asked what I was doing in Europe, I told her, “Well after spending 18 months looking at a computer screen in my apartment, I figured I should do something a little cooler. So I quit my job, bought a one way ticket to Barcelona, and now I drink at Irish pubs with charming British folks such as yourselves.”

She approved of my life decisions.

Mike and I headed to another bar with the Irish lasses for a while before making our way back to the car/bed. Thankfully, Renault Twingo seats recline well.

Saturday, October 23rd / Sunday October 24th

You’ll see why these are blended shortly.

8:00 AM came quick. We had an hour+ drive back to Amalfi to grab our stuff, and another hour+ drive to Naples to drop off the car. Mike had a train to catch in Naples at 12:25, and I had no idea where I was going after that.

We tried to get the car out of the garage, but the exit gate wouldn’t open. The garage attendant wasn’t there yet, so I took matters into my own hands. I popped the car up on the sidewalk, and attempted to squeeze it around the exit.

Unfortunately, the margin for error was too tight for my driving skills, and I clipped a bench.

The Twingo was now sporting a new dent.

I called one of my friends, Jake, while we were driving, and he answered screaming, “JACK! CAN’T HEAR YOU WE’RE AT JOHNNY’S!”

*Johnny’s Hideaway is the best bar in the world*

2:30 AM in Atlanta, 8:30 AM in Sorrento. Aren’t time zones fun?

We got back to the hotel at 9:45 and grabbed breakfast there before heading to Naples. Mike hopped in a taxi to the train station, just barely making his train.

Somehow, the rental car worker didn’t notice the fat new dent on the back of the car. No charges.

I was planning to travel to London tomorrow, and I had booked a $9 flight (cheap, right?) from Milan. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a hotel cheaper than $100 or so near the Milan airport. I realized that I could get to London from Naples by train for like $30. It would take five different trains and 24 hours total, but I could sleep, write, and watch the Braves along the way.

Five hours to Milan, then 20 minutes to catch another train to Switzerland. 3.5 hour layover in Switzerland, then a train to Germany. 2 hour layover in Germany, then a train to Paris. 2 hour layover in Paris, then on to London. AND I GET TO GO THROUGH THE CHUNNEL, A TRAIN TUNNEL UNDER THE ENGLISH CHANNEL, WHICH IS SICK.

I half slept, half read, half wrote on the way to Milan, before spending most of the ride to Switzerland on the phone.

I spent the last night sleeping in a car while catching maybe an hour napping on a train, and now it’s 37 degrees at 1 AM in Northern Switzerland. The train station is semi-closed, but a McDonald’s down the road is open til 4. My next train leaves at 4:30. Perfect.

One of my buddies, Devin, called me about coming to visit. He’s flying to London in a week, and we’re going to Norway from there. Homie hadn’t thought about getting vaccinated yet, and just realized he couldn’t get both doses before leaving. After panicking for seven minutes (if you know Devin, you know exactly what this sounded like), he found one pharmacy in Atlanta with the JnJ one shot vaccine.

I’m not 100% sure he got the vaccine. He definitely got something, but when the only spot in a city offering the JnJ vaccine is a sketchy pharmacy, there’s a greater than 0% chance that they just injected him with Golden Retriever saliva or something weird. Whatever, he has a paper that says he’s vaccinated.

Thanks to Crack Streams, I was able to watch the Bravos kick some LA Dodger ass from a Swiss McDonald’s. Not gonna lie, I was FOMOing hard looking at videos from the Braves stadium. It’ll be fun watching the world series.

Now it’s 4:30 AM, and I hop on my train to Germany. I sleep most of the way, and hop off at 6:30 AM. I spend the next hour sitting in this German station listening to two crack heads argue about which country has the hottest women (South Korea won, if you were curious), I grabbed my second to last train to Paris.

I grabbed brunch at a local cafe and went to the ticket office to get a seat reservation to London.

Considering trains run every hour, I believed that I would be able to get a seat easily on one of the afternoon trains. Nope. No seats today, tomorrow, or Tuesday. Whoops. But the worker told me that I could take a train to Calais, to catch a ferry to Dover, to get a train to London.

So I am currently writing this while riding a train to Calais, to catch a ferry to Dover, to get a train to London.

There’s a group of 30 eight year olds and some teachers in the car behind me, and one of the kids threw up everywhere lol.

I hear the cliffs of Dover are quite a site. Guess we’ll see.

Sunday, October 24th continued

So I made it to Calais at 4:25. I was 28 minutes from the port. My ferry left at 5:30.

I started running. I was outpacing the projected arrival time when I hit a fork in the road. I veered left; it was the quicker route. When I was about 9 minutes away from my destination, I ran into a huge issue. The road across the canal was closed for construction. There was a fifty foot gap where the bridge across the canal was supposed to be.

It would take 25 minutes to backtrack. I didn’t have 25 minutes. But in this massive construction zone (full of no trespassing signs) there was a small, sheet metal bridge across the water.

With my 35 pound backpack strapped on tight, I maneuvered my way through this construction zone to the bridge. I was praying that no port security officers would see me. I made it to the ferry at 5:00… just to be told that the 5:30 passengers had already boarded.

But I was able to get on the 6:30 ferry for no extra charge. So that’s cool.

This ferry was tight. It was like the K-Mart version of a cruise ship. “Ferry” is a misnomer. It was a 9 story ship with two restaurants, a bar, and a supermarket. The sun was setting when we departed, and I could see Dover from the coast of France. I spent most of the voyage on the deck watching England grow closer.

After we reached the port of Dover, a shuttle took the passengers a few miles to a transportation center. I needed to get to the train station ASAP to catch a ride to London. I didn’t have any cash, but a girl from the ferry who was headed to Manchester let me ride in her cab, and we managed to jump on the train to London as the doors were closing.

36 hours later, I finally made it to London. I walked in the hostel, and Jason said, “Man, you look greasy as hell.”

36 hours. 6 trains. 2 crack heads. 1 Braves win. 1 ferry. And finally my first shower in a day in a half.

I should have just gotten the hotel in Milan and flown to London, but that wouldn’t be an interesting read, would it?

Monday, October 25th

Onwards to Scotland.

Being back in an English speaking country is nice. I got to King’s Cross Station at 8:00 AM, but I couldn’t scan my Eurail QR code to get to my train. I explained my train pass to the security guard, and he said it was fine and let me in. Speaking the native language is a real game changer.

I caught a train to York (I guess this is Old York in Old England, because New York is in New England), and switched lines to get to Edinburgh. I arrived at 1:00, dropped my stuff off, and hit a Mexican place for lunch (I know right). The weather was beautiful, which is rare here. I asked my waiter for outdoor recommendations, and he said, “Check out Arthur’s Seat. It has a fantastic view of the city.”

My man was 100% right. After a 1.5 hour hike, I had a view of the whole city, the rolling hills to the south, the sea, and the quickly approaching storm clouds. I scrambled to get down, as I didn’t have a rain jacket.

Too late. I got wrecked by the rain. Ah well.

Jason had now arrived at the hostel, and we went to hang out in the lounge. We met a group of 8 Canadians who were all teaching in London for two years. They had a week holiday, and were visiting Edinburgh til Friday. We decided we’d go out with them tonight.

We walked around town for a bit, and I ended up buying a wool scarf at some local shop. I’m trying to assimilate to the culture over here ya know. After eating some haggis (look it up) and burgers for dinner, we grabbed some good Scottish beers and headed back to the hostel.

We spent the next couple of hours playing drinking games, and some old Canadian dude named Peter sat down with us.

90% of the time, old people at hostels are weird as hell. 10% of the time, they are hysterical and full of fascinating stories. This guy was the former.

We headed to some bar down the road at 11, but it was pretty dead. Jason and I bounced to a couple of different clubs, and we thought we accidentally ended up in a gay bar. Lots of same sex couples, questionable costumes (it’s almost Halloween) etc.

The bouncer told us this place had a drag show every Monday night. Makes sense. If you’ve never been to a drag show, it’s a sight.

We headed back to the hostel around 1:30 and called it a night.

Except at 3:00 AM I got up to use the restroom, and I forgot to bring my key. It was freezing, and I had to go up to the lobby in my boxers and ask the receptionist to let me back in my room lol. Whoops.

Weird Stuff in the UK

  • Driving on the left side of the road

  • Drivers sitting in the left side of the car (it looks really weird if you’re not used to it)

  • Walking up the left side of the stairs

  • Calling the metro the “tube”

  • Crisps are chips, chips are fries, fries don’t exist

  • Using Apple Pay for the “tube” (which is actually really useful)

  • The accents (which are actually cool af)

That’s all for today. Have a great Tuesday, amigos!


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