Is it really over?

Or is this just a temporary hiatus, before hitting the road again?

I’m finally back in London, and now (shock, horror) thinking about finding a job. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick something up pretty quickly. The sooner I start a contract, the sooner I’ll be able to hit the road again. I probably could have stayed there longer, but people kept telling me I couldn’t just sit on a beach all day, and spend all night in bars. Not that I particularly wanted to believe them.

I had an absolute blast in Crete – choosing to hang out there for a while, and do nothing, was one of the best decisions I ever made. After spending so long on the road, constantly thinking about where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, dealing with language issues, trying to understand piles of stones that were once a city…it was nice to do nothing. My biggest challenges were choosing which waterfront restaurant to eat at, and deciding which book to take down to the beach.

If you ever get the chance to head to Crete, and I highly recommend you do, visit Chania, go to DNA and say hi to the crew – Helen, Steve, Pia, Linda, Daga, Marina. It can get a bit crazy there, but is a huge amount of fun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 60 year old man break dancing before. The girls behind the bar will make sure you’re enjoying yourself – just watch out when they start pouring the shots, they can drink a lot more than you. I might put up some of the photos on my website later, but this is a family show, so they might not all be appropriate…

One of the other things that was interesting there was to chat to some of the Americans serving at the Souda Bay US Navy Base. Some really interesting people, with a different take on America to the stereotype. I learnt a lot about America, and American people from them.

It is a pleasant change to be back in a country where I can drink water from the tap, municipal services all work, most drivers aren’t trying to kill me, and there are Western-style toilets, that I can flush paper down. I might even go and eat food from a cafe later, and not be too worried about what illnesses I might pick up. No doubt I’ll get bored of it all soon enough though.

I’ve already started thinking about my next trips – I want to buy a touring bike and ride around Ireland, then Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I also want to go to Austria again this northern winter, and then maybe Canada next year – how to fit it all in?

I’ll write up more of a summary of my trip in the next few days. Maybe just a listing of some of the highlights. I met all sorts of people while travelling, and I think some of those deserve a mention too. I’ll get onto it this week…

On drinking beer from a boot, and other notes from a small island

You know, they teach you many things in school, most of them a complete waste of time. One of the things they do not teach you is how to drink beer out of a boot. Luckily I am here to fill in that gap in your education. I have gone out of my way to study the art of bootdrinking, and here I present my findings.

One: Order the largest bootsize they have. I ordered one of approximately 2.5L – I don’t know, maybe a size 12? Do not waste your time with the smaller boots, other men will laugh at you.

Two: If there is an inch of froth at the top, it is best to let it settle for a while before trying to drink from it. I made the mistake of attempting a drink, and was gagging on froth for several minutes, with no apparent liquid.

Three: Particularly in the first stage, drink with both hands. Towards the end, you may change to one hand, holding the vessel near the ankle. If you try looking cool holding it with one hand at the start, you run the risk of looking like a right nobby after you have poured 2L of beer onto your lap.

Four: The middle stages are difficult. This is the point where you start to wonder if you will ever get to the bottom. The key point here is that once you get down a bit, you start having troubles with air flowing in and out of the toe of the boot as you tilt the vessel. I have found that holding the boot with the toe pointing down avoids this problem, allowing air to flow without restriction while tilting the boot.

Five: The end – avoid the temptation to bang the empty boot on top of your head and shout some phrase from your engineering student days. It doesn’t go down well with the more sedate customers sitting next to you. After all, you are in a restaurant, not a beerhall.

No need to thank me for this advice now, but you can think of me next time you are drinking beer from a boot.

I flew from Istanbul to Athens, where I caught the fast ferry to Hania, in Crete. Somehow, and I don’t know how, I ended up with a business class ticket. I think the stewards were as shocked as I was when looking at my ticket. I thought it was a little more than it should have been. Turns out though, that business class is not that great. They don’t give you any free food or drink. When I offered a beer to the Greek next to me, he politely declined. I think I would have been better off in deck class. Serves me right for going on the high speed ferry.

I’m in Hania, and I think I will stay here for most of the next week, with the exception of the odd day trip here and there. It’s a nice little town, and I’ve got a nice room right on the waterfront, on top of a row of restaurants. A bit touristy, but it’s not quite high season yet. After doing a lot of travelling over the last few months, it’s time for a holiday I think. Perhaps a week here of doing nothing sounds about right.

I may get bored after a few days though, and hit the road, to somewhere else on Crete. We’ll see what happens.