Category Archives: Travel

Space – The Final Frontier For Annoying Tourists

I noticed that Mr Tesla Elon Musk’s spacecraft company SpaceX is planning to launch two tourists on a private “mission” around the moon in 2018. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is also close-ish to launching tourist-laden flights. Exciting times.

In space no one can hear your pathetic life jacket whistle

Space tourism is an amazing concept, but think of the downsides. We’ll be potentially rocketing our planet’s rude tourists into outer space. Which could actually be a good thing, if it weren’t for those pesky return tickets.

At this stage, intrepid space tourists obviously won’t leave the spacecraft; they’ll be only peering out the window (this is when you WILL want a window seat). Eventually we’ll be doing day trips to other planets, solar systems, galaxies, even universes (universi?)

Here is my advice for would be space travellers:

*As you board the spacecraft, don’t hog the overhead locker. You’ll only be wearing the one spacesuit, you won’t need 437 suitcases.

*Don’t disturb the person next to you when continually floating to the bathroom, or joining your friends a few rows back for a space food stick.

*Please pay close attention to the inflight safety demonstration, especially the bit about the whistle and light on your life jacket. Actually don’t bother, in space no one can hear you whistle.

*While strapped into the spacecraft, please don’t let little Trevor kick the back of the seat in front of him. It’s a long flight.

*Trevor continually whining “Are we there yet?” is rather pointless, you’re in space, and the distances are quite long.

*If you book a trip to a resort on Mercury which is the closest planet to the sun, don’t forget your 2,000,000 Plus sunscreen, it’s a tad warm.

*Avoid saying things like “Really? That’s Jupiter?! Is that it? I thought it would be so much bigger.”

*When you’re on Neptune, don’t take out someone’s eye with your humongous selfie stick while getting the perfect shot of Uranus.

*Don’t be the annoying person who continually whinges, “Everything is so much better / cheaper / cleaner etc back on Earth.”

*When you’re buying a souvenir on Venus, please don’t ask, “But how much is that in dollars?” Also, don’t haggle. The concept is foreign to anyone but irritating earthlings.

*Surprisingly, not everyone on Jupiter speaks English.

*American tourists, please don’t be obnoxious. You’re not on Earth anymore.
Please STFU, show some respect for a change. At least the space suit will cover up your fugly bumbags (“fanny packs” to you) and the compulsory sandal and socks combo for Germans.

*Speaking of German tourists, you won’t have to run out at 3am to reserve a sun lounge on Mercury. It takes just over 58 Earth days for the sun-worshippers of Mercury to experience a single day. Also, I wouldn’t do the nudist thing on Mercury.

*Chinese tourists, I know some of you like to defecate on public transport, shopping malls and just about anywhere. In space, that shit will just stay in your suit, sorry.

*Australian tourists, please don’t be a bogan. The good people of Saturn haven’t had a close encounter of the bogan kind. Don’t be the first.

©Steve Williams 2017

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia: 14 Tips For Potential Space Travellers

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Munich’s English Garden – A Winter Wonderland

Munich’s magnificent English Garden is one of the world’s largest urban parks, and an absolute must when visiting the city.

Stretching around five kilometres from the heart of the city, the English Garden boasts lush fields, 78km of paths utilised by walkers, bikes and horses, two fabulous beer gardens, restaurants,
a Chinese tower, Japanese tea house, Greek temple, surfers and nudists.

Though wandering around with my camera in the last few days, I obviously didn’t encounter the latter. The Kleinhesseloher Lake was frozen over, adding to the whole spectacular winter wonderland atmosphere…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2017

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Airline Seating and farting – creating a stink

The world of aviation has come a long way since Orville and Wilbur Wright burst out of the hangar on that December morning in 1903.

Rectal turbulence is no laughing matter

Or has it?

Today, airlines have a mission to cram as many passengers sorry, make optimum use of available cabin space for the ultimate comfort of their stakeholders.

We all know seats are shrinking, the already virtually non-existent legroom is decreasing before our sleep-deprived eyes, while in airline company evil laboratories, sadistic boffins are conjuring up and registering patents for truly cruel and inhumane seating configurations.

Some of these designs forged among the searing flames of hell include two rows of seats sandwiched on top of each other and “saddle seats” where passengers apparently squat,
which would require hamstrings of steel for a nice 16-hour jaunt.

Other patents include a seating configuration with passengers facing each other, standing seats, double-arse bench seats for the big-boned flyer, to the option of seating passengers inside a bubble on top of the aircraft.

They have to be taking the piss, which would not be difficult when you are sitting in that squat seat.

One aviation story caught my eye, “America’s airlines are introducing a class below economy.” Below economy? What? In the luggage hold?

The next step I assume will be a seat bolted to the wing. Imagine the breathless (literally) marketing spin, “Experience unforgettable 360 degree panoramic vistas from the comfort of your seat.”

Though I can see some benefits in this wing seat. At least it would be a fart-free zone.

I don’t have any conclusive medical evidence on the subject, and it would make
a fascinating thesis, but what is it with flying and farting?

Why is it that people become frequent flatulators at 43,000 feet?

Do they normally practice these disgusting anal acoustics in the comfort of their home, or do they kindly wait until they are in close, inescapable proximity with 400 poor unsuspecting souls before cutting the cheese – and I don’t mean the platter on the tray table. The culprits are always fat, bloated business men. You know who you are.

These are serious questions. I am not being classist about these arse-blasts.

Indeed, the wafting cloud of rectal turbulence can be experienced equally in economy and business class.

From personal experience, the methane menace is worse at the pointy end, and has woken me up like some cheek-squeak alarm clock. Makes you want to reach for the oxygen mask.

I implore airlines to implement a zero tolerance policy on backdoor belches, with ejector seats activated for passengers who play the trouser tuba, not to mention use corny fart euphemisms.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia: Creating A Stink About Airline Seating

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You’re un-Australian if…

To celebrate Australia Day, one gazillion rainforests have been slaughtered creating weighty tomes of “what it means to be Australian”. Bugger that.

As a Wattle-waving Aussie, I reckon you’re un-Australian if…

If you don’t know who this bloke is, you’re un-Australian

*You don’t use “yeah, nah” regularly in a sentence.

*You know the mysterious second verse of the Australian national anthem.

*You don’t return from a Bali holiday wearing a Bintang beer singlet and / or braided hair.

*You use the word “sheila”.

*You don’t know what Wattle is.

*You don’t know what “wanker” means.

*You don’t drown your meat pie in tomato sauce.

*You don’t eat meat pies.

*You prefer a Sauvignon Blanc with a melon and ripe gooseberry nose to a stubbie you’ve opened with your eye socket.

*You don’t know what a stubbie is.

*You don’t think Kylie is bunging on that pommie accent.

*You don’t know what “bunging on” means.

*You drink Foster’s beer.

*You call a “prawn” anything other than a “prawn”.

*You’ve never had a bindi stuck in your foot (not the Indian forehead decoration or Steve Irwin’s daughter).

*You like the song I Still Call Australia Home even with Peter Allen bunging on that crap American accent.

*You prefer to sit on the grass at the beach rather than the sand.

*You take a soccer ball to the beach.

*You call a soccer ball a “football”.

*You don’t think the lead singer of AC/DC is still “the new bloke”.

*You don’t return from overseas bitching about how everything is better / cheaper / tastier / bigger / less crowded / less smelly / less foreign than here at home.

*You don’t think Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh should be the national anthem.

*You respond when some bogan chants “Aussie!, Aussie!, Aussie!…”.

*You don’t know what a “bogan” is.

*You think it’s ok that our head of state is a member of an English family.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2016

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Random Swill Paris images

To slightly misquote the song, I love Paris anytime. Even more so following the events of last week.

If we stop travelling, those terrorist bastards win. And that can’t happen.

To celebrate one of the world’s greatest cities, time to relive a few of my Paris random images….

©Steve Williams 2015

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Spa Anxiety – When Sandalwood Attacks

My spa anxiety kicked in while filling in the form — I was handed a cup of hibiscus unicorn tears tea or something. I shouldn’t drink it because I’ll have to sprint to the toilet halfway through.

I felt nothing like this after my spa treatment

Then the change room. What do I need to take off? Everything? Just for a back massage?
So why are those useless disposable undies there? Am I supposed to wear them?
If yes, which way do they go? And why are they so see-through?

Which way does the robe go on?
Remember that time it had to go on backwards Hannibal Lecter style?

Do I have to wear these thongs? (Australian footwear usage)
Who wore them before? What if they had tinea / leprosy / the Black Death?

Ok, so far so good, I’m face down with my head poking through that furry toilet seat thing.

I’m only having a back massage, so why have my undies been simultaneously rolled down and aside to give me a pseudo Sumo / Bondi lifesaver style wedgie?

What if the therapist cracks something and I now have the communication skills of an artichoke?

Shit! I need to go to the toilet again. Bloody hibiscus unicorn tears tea.

Why are they pressing so hard on my kidneys?
Feels like they’re going to burst through my scrotum.

Why am I oiled up like the last meal Elvis Presley ate?

What are you doing near my arse?

“How is the pressure?” I want to scream “You’re f*cking killing me!”, but don’t want to sound weak.

It’s over. “Yes that was wonderful, thanks.” I lied.

A massage in a spa is like a physiotherapy session at a demented dentist — accompanied by mystical rainforest music.

Great. Now I have post spa anxiety stress disorder.

Think I need a massage…

©Steve Williams 2015

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Bastard Backpacks

Dear the bastard backpack wearing fraternity of the world.

I’m sure some of you are very nice people who like tickling kittens under their chin, but some of you are absolute bastards. Seriously.

Seat 12A on your next flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not talking about the noble types who trudge around Kathmandu et al taking-an-undisclosed-period-of-time-off-to-travel-the-world type of backpacker, more the commuting corporate warrior.

No, I’m taking aim at the women, but mainly men (who most likely work in the financial industry and wear pseudo-Batman utility belts for their various appliances) who infect trains, buses, ferries and planes with their massive growths on their backs, taking out innocent and unsuspecting citizens with every swivel of their shoulders.

So when you put your backpacks on, does your spatial awareness suddenly evaporate along with what was remaining of your fashion sense?

Don’t you realise that when you have your Dell laptop and other geeky apparatus strapped to your back like a dork baby koala, you may, just may, be slightly inconveniencing the rest of the world? No? Didn’t think so.

The next one of your kind who almost dislocates my shoulder as you bump your way down the aisle of a plane…

Words ©Steve Williams 2015

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Bavarian Break – Surfing in the city

As it’s a rather toasty 35 degrees in Munich today, this is a perfect time (and temperature) to relive my surfing in Munich story….

It’s not every day you see someone walking around the heart of the city with a surfboard under their arm – then actually getting on it. Especially when that city is hundreds of k’s from the nearest beach.

Welcome to surfing Munich style – wetsuits mixing it up with business suits.

The historic German city is probably better known for its annual Oktoberfest when lovers of the amber fluid invade in there millions. This year they downed 6.6 million litres of beer in 15 thirsty days and devoured 112 oxen. Nice work. Also, 900 passports were recovered by lost and found.

Running through Munich’s Englisher Garten – not hard to work out what that translates to – is a tributary of the Isar River called the Eisbach. It’s basically a man-made stream and the famous 1 metre high, 12 metre wide break is formed when the water hammers through tunnels, spews out under a very cool looking 19th century stone bridge and belts into submerged concrete blocks at over 30 k’s an hour.

We’re talking the middle of the city here. The break is next to an art museum called the Haus Der Kunst – be careful how you pronounce that last word. It’s pretty surreal seeing guys and girls in wetsuits wandering down a city footpath. A few gutsy Aussies were just in their boardies, maybe they’d knocked off a few litres of beer, the water temperature is brass monkey threateningly cold – the name “Eisbach” means “ice stream”.

It’s a permanent standing wave, the surfers climb down the river bank, face the bridge, and get straight onto the wave – easier said than done, the water is only about forty centimetres deep and really pumping out of that tunnel. Don’t forget those nice concrete blocks are lurking below, just waiting for you. The sound is quite intense too – like roaring rapids.

While I was perched on the river bank there was a real mix of talent that afternoon – some experienced old stagers were carving up 360’s, radical re-entries, slides and cut backs, to a few rookies some just barely getting up, then losing it bigtime.

Due to its small size, there’s only room on the curl for one surfer at a time, it could be ridden forever, but there’s an unwritten code that you stay up for a few minutes, then let the force of the water sweep you down the canal and you climb out and walk back. Which isn’t a bad thing, in summer the English Garden is packed with people sunbaking, so the eye-candy can be quite good.

Nudism is a bit of a national sport in Munich… you do get nudists in the Garden, people letting it all hang out during their lunch break, but that’s in another part of this massive park – it covers nearly four square kilometres. Sadly the only nudists I saw were some fat old German blokes who’d eaten all the bratwurst. Not a pretty sight.

The surfers patiently wait their turn on the bank, it does get pretty crowded. I didn’t see any drama, and it’s a pretty tight community. Apparently though there’s the occasional bit of agro with kayakers.

The Eisbach has been surfed since the 1970’s; those early pioneers used ropes tied to the bridge or trees to keep their balance. Back then river surfing was illegal, I think it still is, there are signs prohibiting it – look for the word “verboten”, but these rules aren’t enforced. It’s become quite a tourist attraction, hordes of tourists gazing down from the bridge and lining the riverbanks with camera phones clicking away, there was even a guy selling food.

There’s a bit of talk that the authorities are looking to shut the wave down due to insurance liability. So far, no one’s been killed surfing the Eisbach wave – though there have been quite a few fractures and dislocations over the years. A couple of swimmers have drowned in the river, but that was further down, a long way from the break, and they weren’t surfers.

There are a couple of other river surfing sites in the city, the Munich Surf Open has been regularly held at one of these other spots, but the Eisbach break is far more challenging. Which could be the problem, the old hands of the break really wish the rookies would stay away, because if there is a death, the wave could be closed down. So if you’re a rookie, join the crowds and just watch. It’s not something you see every day.

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2015

My story and images originally published in Surfing Life magazine Australia.

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A Fucking road trip (Fucking, Austria)

“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Fucking?”
(with apologies to that Bangor-loving band Fiddler’s Dram).

The very quaint Fucking village

Indeed we did. It is the first time I have typed the word “Fucking” into the car’s GPS system. Though I have directed that word towards it many times.

Setting out from Munich, myself and two esteemed media colleagues (let’s call them Jane and Phil) embarked on a day trip to Fucking, a village just four kilometres east of the German border.
Why? To quote Sir Edmund Hillary, (who possibly never went to Fucking), “because it is there.”
Also for the giggling, childish entertainment value. And the selfies.

Fucking is quiet, very quiet — it is a tiny, picturesque rural village, with only one hundred
Fucking residents.

I was expecting to see tourist coaches spewing out pissed Aussie bogans and English chavs,
intent on stealing the Fucking signs. Thankfully no.

There is not much in Fucking at all. There are no Fucking shops, no Fucking restaurants, not even
a Fucking hotel. The only Fucking living things we encountered were some Fucking cows,
one Fucking person and a Fucking dog, who was quite protective of the Fucking sign I was being photographed next to.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Gasthof Lindlbauer in the next village of Haid, with an interesting decor of former Fucking animals, though we still had a lovely Fucking view.
The very hospitable waitress asked if we’d come for the Fucking experience, and duly presented us with bottles of Fucking Hell beer. Prost!

On reflection, it was a truly Fucking memorable day.

The Fucking directions

This Fucking way

A former Fucking resident

Another Fucking sign

The Fucking end

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2015

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St. Patrick’s Day… Munich style

The 20th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Munich was a great day for the Irish…
and Germans… and Aussies… and Slovenians… and dogs… and…

A few of my random images…

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich

St. Patrick's Day Munich


St. Patrick's Day Munich

Images: ©Steve Williams 2015

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