Filed under: twitchhiker project | Tags: amsterdam, bbc radio newcastle, berlin, century radio, indie travel podcast, metro radio, paris
6am start this morning. Feeling it now. I was guest on the breakfast show of my former radio station Century Radio; lots of fun, very relaxed and a great response from tweeps when the presenters asked me to pose a question on Twitter. I recorded some soundbites for their weekend news then applied my legendary foot of lead to the accelerator, to skip across the city for BBC Radio Newcastle’s breakfast show. Another station I used to work at. Christ, I was such a radio whore.
Back home, and a phone interview with Metro Radio, also in Newcastle and also… yeah, you guessed already. Then a phonecall from Look North, the BBC’s regional news programme; they want to film my departure from Central Station on Sunday. Rattled off some information for an Austrian reporter and recorded an interview over Skype with Craig Martin, presenter of the Indie Travel Podcast. You can listen to Craig and I burble across the internet and around the world here.
Then there was the not unimportant matter of Twitchhiking; I was due to arrive in Amsterdam on Monday morning, but would I stay the night or move on? Unlike the clock start at midday yesterday, Twitter users could offer to help at any point through the day. After the initial pandemonium to see me on my way, I woke up expecting a glut of destinations, tickets and hotels flocking to my aid, but instead there was… nothing. Bugger. Bugger and damn and panic. I’d failed before I’d begun.
It took some time for the offers to rise and shine, but eventually I had the choice of transport to The Hague and a night at the sumptuous Haagsche Suites courtesy of @HappyHotelier; train tickets and a hotel provided by the politely insistent @Themelis_Cuiper, and a combined offer of travel and board in a Parisian hostel from @ikangaroo and @stchostels.
As much as I wanted to snooze a snooze of decadence, The Hague barely moved me on from Amsterdam, so the choice came down to Berlin and Paris. My concern with Berlin, despite it clearly been more popular with tweeps than Paris, was that it effectively sealed my route in an Easterly direction. I’ll make no bones about it, I’d far rather be parachuted onto the East coast of North America and work my way across or down to South America. Going East means issues with visas, with language and with diseases I was too late to be immunised against. More importantly, Twitter activity to the east of Europe has been next to non-existent compared to the West. It’s not enough to have a handful of vocal Twitter users scattered across a continent; I need real options if something goes wrong.
For me, day one was about getting out the UK; day two is about moving on but keeping my options open. There’s a small chance somebody will come through with a flight across the Atlantic, and I think the odds are improved if I stay close to the major airports in London, Paris and Amsterdam; if I’m seen to head further East, I think people will assume that’s my preferred choice. Of course I may have no other choice than to head in the direction, in which case I’ll gladly shut the hell up and get on with it.
I don’t have to make plans exactly three days ahead; I could make them just an hour in advance, but I have to start somewhere. As it happens, while people can offer me options for Tuesday from tomorrow, I won’t be making any decisions until Sunday; tomorrow needs to be about getting organised, getting packed and spending some time with my wife of exactly one month.
So here’s my itinerary so far; I haven’t heard back from @ikangaroo yet, so Paris still isn’t confirmed:
@rivits will take me by car from Newcastle Central Station to the DFDS Seaways terminal at North Shields
@minxlj has already sent me the e-ticket to take the overnight ferry to Amsterdam
Arrive in Amsterdam
@ikangaroo has offered to provide a train ticket from Amsterdam to Paris TBC
@stchostels has given me a room in St Christpher’s Inn, Paris
Twitter has been strangely quiet since I announced my preference for Paris over Berlin. I’ll assume everyone went to the pub or became very busy, and isn’t sulking at me for ignoring their preferred choice of city. If the train to Paris doesn’t happen, I still have two other options, plus there were yesterday’s offers of accommodation in and around Amsterdam, and there are still three days to find a new offer.
It’s all gravy, as the kids say. Although I’ve never heard a kid say that, to be honest with you.
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