Episode 14: That Time Joe Lost A Tooth

365 Dates of Travel Podcast

Transcript for Episode 14: That Time Joe Lost A Tooth

This week I’m reading directly from the book being 365 Dates of Travel: The first six months. And I take you from Kemi in Finland, to Paris in France, and off to Morocco. 

7th March (2013) Kemi, Finland

My fourth day in Finland. I was travelling with four female friends, which differed from my usual travelling style. This was a solo trip until I told a friend about it. She asked if she could come. I said yes. Then she asked if a friend of hers could come. Why not? And that continued until we made five. I had met everyone, except for one, before. Five of us trundled off to Finland. I stopped in Denmark on the way and met up with everyone in Helsinki.

We woke up this morning in our Ice Hotel room. Five of us in arctic rated sleeping bags, lined up in one frozen room. We wore multiple layers to bed, but I became warm removing the layers by morning. Everyone slept better than we’d expected. At least warmer than expected.

Getting out of the warm sleeping bag was hard. You had to put on enough layers to keep warm in the hotel. Though, minus three degrees inside was warmer than the outside temperature.

They served breakfast in the main building, which is a permanent heated building. We ate ham, cheese, croissants, sausages and meatballs.

Showering facilities were off campus. A Finnish sauna experience. We had the venue to ourselves and followed the rules. Everything was done naked without doors. We got to know each other well. And came out clean and steamed.

We’d pre-booked a four-hour boat cruise on The Sampo. It’s an ice-breaker ship. These small, but heavy, boats slide on to the ice, and use their weight to break the ice underneath them, leaving a watery path allowing other vessels to sail through. So travels in an up and down movement.

I loved the ice breaking sound. I could listen to it all day. Creak, creak, crack, creak, crack, craaacckkk. I did not want to go inside for our included lunch and engine room tour.

Ice swimming is part of the experience. You dress in big red dry-suits to protect you from the freezing waters. You look, and feel, like a Teletubby. Walking was difficult. They guide you into the water, sliding on your bottom, then pushed further out. The air in the suits enables you to float and bob around. It is tricky manoeuvring in the water so they have hooks on sticks to help fish you out. We were able to enter the water because the ice-breaker had done its job breaking the ice. The “land” around us was frozen ocean.

We explored the Ice Hotel after our Sampo adventure, including toboggan rides. As the temperature dropped, we moved into the warm building, making use of the internet.

Then we moved on to our next destination. We sat in face-to-face seats in our second-class carriage. No first class when travelling with companions. The train left at 6:34 pm, arriving 7:50 pm at Rovaniemi. Finnish trains are fantastic; clean and modern, with extra amenities. We were travelling further and further north, stopping along the way. One day, I would like to go back and take the Finnish overnight trains. The cabins look impressive.

This next story is me travelling through Europe on my own, on my way to meet newfound friends in Spain, where I would join them for a trip around Africa. But this date is me in Paris at Euro Disney. If you’ve read the book, you know I love Disney. 

13th March (1998) Paris, France

The guidebook says local Parisians have used names such as “Euro-dismal” and “Disneybland” to describe Euro Disney, or Disneyland Paris. Today will be my third visit. I have no complaints about the place. I was happy to be returning and glad I knew my way around.

My diary says I “only” rode Space Mountain three times. My head was shaken more than usual. Combine that with watching a Captain EO 3D movie, and I developed a headache. Not sure how many more times I would have ridden Space Mountain without the headache. Three times sounds good enough to me.

There were hardly any queues. The park closed at 6:00 pm and we got everything done. A Japanese girl from the hostel came with me. The most we waited was fifteen minutes for the Indiana Jones Ride, but the average wait was only five minutes. I likened this visit to my brilliant Disney World visit in 1992. We arrived at 11:30 am, allowing six and a half hours to experience the park.

The shops outside remained open, so we explored. There was a Planet Hollywood restaurant, but they didn’t have my favourite dessert, the Chocolate Hollywood Mousse Pie, so we didn’t go in.

My headache lingered, and were both exhausted, so returned to the hostel. We were so tired neither of us said a word the entire way home. It would be a forty-minute train ride to Gare de Lyon train station, and another twenty minutes to the hostel from there.

Back at the hostel, I borrowed a Walkman, and a Titanic Soundtrack cassette tape, listening to which made me happy. I lamented my decision to not bring my own Walkman. I was hoping to buy a cheap one in duty free when visiting Gibraltar.

I also noted in my journal tonight would be my last night in a proper bed. It was time to enjoy a mattress while I could.

Spending:

Euro Disney ticket 160 FF

Train ticket 76 FF

Homeless man 11 FF

This next date is a story from one of my favourite trips. My Africa 1998 trip that will probably have a book all on its own, right? Coming out soon, sometime later this year. And for this date in March, we are in Morocco and I talk about some of the highs and lows of travelling in a small group in a small vehicle as you camp your way around Africa.

24th March (1998) Meknes, Morocco

We put two tents up last night. Joe slept on his own in the single tent and the rest of us slept in the medium tent. With three in the tent, I slept in the middle on my Thermorest finally. However, it meant the others surrounded me. Once Vinnie is asleep, there is no waking him. At every given point, some part of him was in my space. His legs moved over the top of me at one point. I tried to push them off, but he kept rolling back. He snored throughout all of this. Then I had Sarah breathing heavily in my direction when facing her. They both slept well. Me not so much.

Also, dogs barked all night. Then people and donkeys walking around our tents from 5:00 am. I was exhausted. I noted it was time to use my sleep sheet now warmer.

Sarah slept well. Normally, she doesn’t talk or smile until she’s out of the tent and packed up her stuff. This morning, she smiled at me and started chatting before she even sat up in the tent. I’m glad someone slept well.

The legs business with Vinnie sent me over the edge. I was not happy.

I’m getting a little Vinnie sick… Last night was a bit much… Enough is enough, really. He’s so much in my face. Constantly calling me “champ”, leaning over me to reach things…and in my space at night. NO MORE! Together during the day at sights and in the car… Vinnie keeps talking and I don’t want to listen… I need some alone time… I was in such a crappy mood this afternoon. I feel better now.

The highs and lows of small group travel.

Today Vinnie and I visited Volubilis, ruins of a Roman city. I enjoyed being able to meander without ropes. And see mosaics left in place. You got a better picture of how it looked in its heyday.

We sat in the forum, taking it in, chatting about the trip. It wasn’t smooth sailing. I asked Vinnie if Joe had sent Sarah out after me when looking for wood yesterday. He thinks Joe said to Sarah to hop out, and Sarah replied saying she was going to. Now I know.

The site contained no fence, but a man tried to collect money for parking. He was easy to avoid as could drive off before he got to you. At least two cars drove off. I felt bad for him. I’m assuming it was his salary. No fees collected meant no money to feed his family.

While we were in the ruins, Sarah was practicing driving the car. She then continued driving us to Meknes. Joe was telling her what gear to be in and changing it himself sometimes. We made the twenty kilometres in one piece.

We ran out of diesel, though. Such an avoidable situation, seeing as we have jerry cans full of diesel on the roof. We should have filled up before leaving camp. Joe’s responsible for that. How would we have known? With the car stopped on the side of the road, we used one of the jerry cans to get us restarted and headed to a nearby petrol station.

I now know it’s not ideal for a diesel engine to run out of fuel. You need to remove any air or it can harm the engine. I don’t recall doing anything other than putting more diesel in. A petrol car can run out with no consequences, but not diesel. Did we make a mistake here?

We also bought a new oil cap, as it had vanished. The car was falling apart.

Joe was also falling apart with his false front tooth falling out today. He tried to cement it back in with supplies from his dental first aid kit, but it didn’t work. Now he has a single front tooth and talks with a lisp. It’s a unique look and sound.

Sarah asked me if I wanted to look after the food kitty. I jumped at the chance. I was curious about how much everything costs. Maybe at the end of the month, I’d take over.

Once in Meknes, Vinnie and I explored. The maps in our guidebook were useless. It made everywhere sound amazing when, in reality, it wasn’t. We had to ask for directions often, but found everyone helpful. We found our way to The Imperial City, a 17th-century palace complex. I wanted to see the underground vaults where they kept Christian slaves. I appreciated the cool temperature.

We met at the assigned time, announcing we wanted more time. We were nervous about speaking up. In their allotted two hours, Jo and Sarah had tried to visit the old town. Deciding it was too far, they sat in a cafe instead. We ended up driving closer to the old town so everyone got to see it. We just had to ask. At least it worked this time. Four hours at once would have been better.

My feet were hurting. I think I may have been wearing hiking boots or sneakers this whole time. I hadn’t found sandals to add to the footwear mix, but I needed to. My feet needed airing.

Today’s diary ends with:

I’m on half a seat trying to keep away from Vinnie. He’s always in my space and touching me. It’s time to leave now. I’ve had as much as I can handle today.

Wrap Up

Thank you for listening today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories from the March chapter. Next week I’ll be talking about the stories behind the stories of the April chapter of the book and a little bit of the of May, seeing as there are only a few dates in May in the first book. Most of May will be in the second book, 365 Dates of Travel: The second six months, coming out in a few weeks’ time. 

Don’t forget to check out the website. There’s all sorts of things, something for everybody, from photos to podcasts to transcripts of the podcast. Sign up for my newsletter where you can keep up to date on what is coming up next and what’s going on behind the scenes of writing. There are links to buy the books from there on the Books page, and other than that, I wish for you an interesting day.

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