Friday, September 10, 2010

Grumpy With Timid Travellers

We're in Denia right now (or "in denial" as The Dreaded One typo'd on Facebook), but my new Grumpy column is due so this is what it is. These people were so frustrating. But there is material everywhere.

Going to try my hand at travel writing too. With a Grumpy bent. There are a couple of comps about that appear worth entering. Wouldn't that be the best way to make a living? Being paid to go to interesting places and write about the funny shit you encounter there? May as well give it a bash.

Oh and I might be able to keep writing for Drum and 3D while here. No reason I can't. I just received an email from a guy who did a drag show last year and he wanted my story for quotes to use somewhere. He said it was his favourite piece in all the Sydney media. Not bad given that I'm straight and Drum is rock n roll and thre are quite a few gay street mags in Sydney. He wants me to cover his next show when I get back to Sydney, got me thinking, why can't I interview him (and anyone else) from here, write up the story and email it in? I'm writing Grumpy from here and it's being published in Queensland.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this Grumpy column.


I'm standing in an unnecessary queue at reception in a nice hotel in Lisbon. I'm allowed to be in a nice hotel in Lisbon because I've just spent a week dancing in the dust at Boom in Portugal, living out of a tent. I deserve a little luxury hit. The queue is unnecessary because the people in front of me are treating the information guy like a tour booking agent, which he more-or-less is. They have a facility to book tickets for you, but she's settled right in and is asking him all sorts of stuff that she should already know. Surely in these situations you already know where you want to go, and you book the tickets. Me, I just want 30 seconds of his time to get my password for wifi connection. But she's all elbows-on-the-counter while asking for his opinion on where he thinks they should go. Dad is gazing with lust at the hotel bar while Teen Boy looks very much like he's trying really hard to be invisible.

“Okay,” Mum says in the most annoying of Brit accents, “so we'll book a day tour for Sintra and the coast on Friday, another day tour on Saturday... that leaves Friday night free. What do you suggest we do on Friday night?”

Info Guy looks a little exasperated. “Well what do you want to do on Friday night?”

“Do you have restaurants and bars and things in the area? Not too far away because we'll get lost if we go more than five minutes away. Is there a show nearby that you can recommend?”

Dad pulls out of his bar-lust for a few agitated moments. “Darling, do we really want to do so much. Won't we be exhausted? Don't we want some time to just relax and take in all that we've seen?”

What he's really saying is can't we have some time to just sit in the bar and drink beer, like back home?

Invisible boy remains invisible, probably daydreaming about whatever game it is he uses to block out his awful reality... probably a game involving shooting family members with high powered weaponry.

In the end Mum hands over a huge wad of Euro for their day trips. Especially when you do the conversion to Australian dollars, it's a silly amount of money. Especially especially as I've just come from Sintra on the train for a two Euro. I spent a whole day wandering around the main attractions of the Moorish Castle, Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. You could spend the best part of a day in each and there are plenty more. And the coast of Sintra as part of a day trip? You must be shitting me.

As for any bars or restaurants in the area... did these people run blind-folded from their taxi straight into the hotel? There are massive plazas of bars and restaurants just outside the hotel door. And if you walk a block or two away, you'll enjoy top quality food at half the price in authentic, friendly restaurants.

I feel sorry for timid travellers. Sure, these clowns can go back home and talk of all the wonderful sites they saw, but a quick glance is just missing out. Toughen up. Check out the public transport system and use it. Stay in a place. For the hundreds of Euro she was paying for these day trips, the family could have been in Sintra in less than an hour, stayed the day or two it really takes to experience it, then bussed it to the coast and stayed there at a couple of beaches for a couple of days. And time constraints be buggered; they have more days in Lisbon. I know because I've been listening to them for almost 20 minutes now.

And I've just designed a new game that involves timid travellers who get in the way of my wifi being blown to pieces by high powered weaponry.

Lee Bemrose is Grumpy with timid travellers. He's a freelance writer,

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