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Michael’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 31 Jul 2007

MapNO VACANCIES - What a shocker of a weekend.

You would not believe it... seriously, who'd have thought that given how much traveling I've done, and in the countries that I have been to, that the first time I would find myself homeless, it would be in England when I WASN'T even traveling!

Let me set a couple things straight first, and head back to Thursday night... no back a little bit further.

When I finally got my MP3 player replacement battery and installed the new one, I decided to follow the path of letting the batteries on my toys (MP3 player, Phone) run down more before I charge them again. So, as such, I have taken to charging my phone every second night rather than every night... so to Thursday night.

I headed to Reading by train and caught up with Nat and Cari for dinner and drinks for one of their mates Ben. It was a good night, once everyone else got there! Hahaha. We had dinner and drinks at the Slug & Lettuce, before I headed off back to Southampton by train. Made it home a bit after midnight, and to bed around 1, giving my a huge 5 hour sleep before heading to work for the half day Friday. In any case, phone didn't get charged Thursday night.

Friday after work, I planned to have a nap, go to drinks with Nat for someones leaving do and stop in at a birthday party in one of the Southampton clubs on the way home. Instead headed to the gym, for the first time in MONTHS! Nat decided no on the drinks, so I called Potter (footy) and we headed out to the party early, taking a beer in at a couple of the pubs along the way. We caught up with Stroudy (footy) who was having his leaving do drinks and then headed to Varsity to catch up with Olly (footy) for his birthday drinks. Somehow we ended up at an 80's nightclub called Reflex (Reflux? My God, never again... made Retro in Melbourne looks even normal-ish). Eventually Stroudy, Carrie and I headed to the Walkie (dunno why) and stayed there till close... The partying continued all night, and I managed around an hours sleep... and about 10 minutes of phone charge.

Saturday morning I was on a train early in the morning heading to Brighton to watch the Aussie Rules League Grand Final. Man, it was tough watching, and I much rather would have played.... But Stroudy and I had a bit of fun on the day. We got to be the official film crew for the game, but of course that meant that we were also the game commentators. Man, can we talk rubbish! Hahaha. It was awesome fun, and we managed to commentate most of the game without too many dead patches. After the game I also took the camera down into the change rooms and filmed the Bournemouth Demons singing their club song in the style of the Channel 7 film crew panning around the team. Was a pretty lack luster game though with Bournemouth trouncing Sussex.

Eventually after the game had finished they announced a few league awards in the bar. Yours truly, Michael Krischunas, managed to take away the 2007 Southern Division GM's Medal for the person who put the most into making the league prosper. Cheers, given the time I put in, I'm pretty satisfied with that. Then came the league B&F. Well, I polled dreadfully - only polling in the games we lost (go figure? - and that was only 2 games...). Tommy had a slow start to the year, but polled 3 best on grounds, and 2 x 2 vote games in the final 6 games to take the league B&F by one vote over the Sussex player (and league leading goal kicker) in second place. Good work Tommy... would have liked the flag, but I guess the league best and fairest player in the leagues first year isn't too bad.

So, we stayed at the rugby club celebrating for a few hours, and eventually headed into Brighton to meet up with some of the Sussex players. Unfortunately, I only had shorts and a t-shirt, so figured that I would struggle getting in anywhere. We started at the Fiddlers Elbow, and slowly, guys disappeared to who knows where.

Tommy and I headed with one of the Sussex players to the Brighton Walkie as it was the only place we could talk our way around lines and in with me wearing shorts. The minute we got inside, the player from Sussex bailed to find his other mates and it was just Tom and I left. Pretty soon he headed out for more money and smokes, and, well, never came back!

So suddenly, I was by myself... and, (back to the start of the story), had a phone with a dead battery! Doh... So the place that I was supposed to be staying at (the Sussex captain's couch) was text to me after my phone died... I had no idea of the address.

Simply enough right? Swap your SIM card into another phone... Well, two things. 1. British people don't seem to be friendly and forward about lending phones to people to swap SIM cards. 2. Most phones are locked to a network, and with probably a dozen networks, at best you will find 1 in 12 people on the same network and then have to convince them to allow you to use their phone to try and work your SIM card. The other option of swapping a phone battery didn't work any better either...

So, around 1230, at least an hour after the last train for Southampton left, I bailed on the Walkie, and decided to look for accommodation. It didn't take me long to find out that in Brighton there is no chance in hell of rocking up and hoping to get some last minute accommodation. I tried at least 20 places, from hostels, B&B's, budget hotels, and even the Radison on the waterfront. It got to the point where cost wasn't really an option.... Outside it was howling wind, and pissing rain... or so I thought. As I wandered the streets, from hotel to hostel to B&B, I was three blocks away from the waterfront when the "rain" started dying down. I licked my lips and noticed a salty taste... What? It wasn't rain, instead, the wind had picked up so much that it was picking the water up and carrying it back as far as three blocks back from the waterfront. And remember, I was wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt.

Eventually I gave up on the hunt for a hotel and caught a cab to the train station. I knew the last train had left, but figured there might be somewhere warm, or at least a place with a roof over the top to rest while I waited.

Arriving at 3 am, I struck out again. They had locked the gates to the train station, so I couldn't even get in there and get under cover. Instead, I took refuge in the well-lit doorway of a bank next to the train station with a few other party goers waiting for the first train home. Oh yeah, and the dude who slept there most nights by the look, and smell, of his sleeping bag! Having not slept in so long, I eventually dozed off with my hands in my pockets. At about 4 am, after a fitful doze, I woke up to realise no one was around me... the gates to the train station were open.

Sweet... I headed inside to find out that the first train that could even get me headed in the right direction didn't leave till 545am, and that started the longest journey ever. A 20 minute train ride, followed by a 40 minute wait on a platform in the middle of nowhere with no shelter. Then a 40 minute train ride to Clapham Junction, followed by a half hour wait there, then a 90 minute ride back to Southampton. I made it home just after 10am, put my phone on charge!, showered and copped a couple hours of interrupted sleep.

Spent the avo around at Nat's (top Sunday roast) and then came home Sunday evening. Managed 8 hours sleep Sunday night and felt chirpy as I had in weeks at work on Monday - bizarre. As bad as my Saturday night wandering the streets of Brighton seemed, some of the horror stories of the other guys that disapeared (in general, apparently made dashes for last trains home) don;t make me feel too bad, with some taking wrong trains and ending up further from home (and cabbed it back there anyway) and another sleeping through his stop, and ending up in the siding at Salisbury train station after the train departed from the platform and went into holding.

Oh well, I know that I will never travel with such confidence that to think that I will always find a place to stay - which I have tended to believe in the past. If I can come up empty handed in England, in a tourist town with more places of accommodation than you can shake a stick at, I could loose out anywhere.