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Batman Abroad: The End.

In a few hours I will be boarding a plane back to Toronto.

So this is officially the last travel diary…for now anyway. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’ll be financially able to travel again. It will be odd writing another blog post without “Batman Abroad” in the title. I’ll miss it.

These last few days in London have been bittersweet. It’s been a nice relaxing stay. Weather has been kind of on and off, but I was able to see some of the things I didn’t see before. I spent a lot of time walking and getting lost. Major lost. I got really lost on Monday and had no idea where the fuck I was. I don’t know how that happened. I usually am able to know where I am at all times. But the last couple days here have been killing me. It took me an hour to find Susie’s house to get my guitar and she literally lives a three minute walk from where I’m staying! What the fuck is that?! I need a smartphone just for the GPS…fuck me.

Where it began, where it ends.

New Year’s Eve was quiet. Well far from quiet. But quiet in the sense I was still out on my own. However I’ve definitely gotten used to this. And the fireworks along the Thames was ridiculous. I would like to know how much money flowed into that spectacle.

Being back in London has almost been like returning home. Of course a big reason for that is everyone is speaking ENGLISH. And what definitely came with that feeling is this overwhelming exhaustion. I haven’t slept like this since I was last in London. All the traveling has finally caught up to me, I’m so looking forward to that jet lag when I arrive back in Canada.

I will be in Toronto for a few days crashing with my very understanding friends and former roommates. Colin was the only one I let know about my arrival before last night. Chris now knows as well. So in assuming that  Jer doesn’t read my blog, he’ll get a nice surprise when he comes home from work and I’m standing atop the staircase naked in all my glory. I’ll be in the city to do some major job and apartment hunting until I go back to Ottawa to see my family. I’m a little stressed…OK I am stressed, but I’m hoping it’ll all work out. Fingers crossed.

So should this final post be reflective? I feel like all my diaries have been nothing but reflective with a side of vulgarity. So to do so would be a lot of repeating…

Maybe I can do highlights? What I liked, what I hated, what I was “Meh” about. Or just a quick rundown, yeah a quick rundown. Let’s do that…like a Coles’ Notes version. BAM!

BONG! London was great. When I first arrived I was groggy and jet lagged. But it was so AWESOME to be surrounded by these accents that I’ve tried so hard to imitate and always failed. I couldn’t help but giggle just eavesdropping whilst in the tube. I stayed with the friendliest woman my first week and the friendliest Australian gay couple for two weeks after that. They were wonderful and I played my first ever game of croquet with them. And I won! Ahem, not bragging…anyway, I worked a small commercial (also acted poorly in it for a micro-second) and then buggered off.

Bottle of wine down beneath the undercarriage of the Eiffel Tower

BONG! Paris was something else. My Canadian French did not go unnoticed. It was humiliating at times. But what made up for it was the fact I was staying in a Korean hostel, drinking every night with a group of the friendliest Asians I’ve ever met. Um, and also Disneyland Paris? Definite highlight. It was like being home again…if I were from Anaheim or Orlando…anyway Paris really was beautiful. I loved getting lost in the streets.

In Segovia, just outside of Madrid

BONG! Madrid was beautiful, but what was even better about Madrid was seeing Chelsea. At this point it had been weeks since I’d had a real conversation with anyone. Talking and hanging out with Chelsea was JUST the same as being back home. I’d also like to extend an apology to Chelsea if I ever embarrassed her whilst out with her friends, when I get nervous I drink more and drink faster. Oh! And the zoo! That fuckin’ zoo rocked with those crazy circus bears. They weren’t really circus bears but man could they catch a peanut.

The one day in two weeks it didn't rain.

BONG! Venice was where inspiration hit. It was raining like mad so I was holed up in a tiny little flat while the rest of Italy was sinking. So I started spitting out as many ideas, short scripts, and polishing old scripts to bide my time. I entered some writing competitions, touched base with my old boss from Breakout Kings, and started to think about what my real goal was going to be whilst out here.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? (Gladiator reference)

BONG! Rome, I went to because I had to. Don’t get me wrong, it was really great to see the sights and most were breathtaking, but it was like Paris. It’s a city that you’d be daft NOT to see when you’re out in Europe and have the opportunity. It’s a tourist death trap though. It was crowded, everyone is trying to sell you something, and the subway always smelled of burnt piss. Yes, that’s right, burnt piss.

Marry me.

BONG! Slovenia was the underdog and ended up being the best place I visited through my journey. It is such a beautiful country. The beer is tasty, the people are wonderful and friendly, and I simply didn’t want to leave. Kaja and her family made me feel so at home. If and when I come back, I will definitely make time to return to this country. I had a great time.

Forget what this is…

BONG! Budapest. I was sick. It was gloomy compared to Slovenia. The House of Terror was cool. Ugh, that sounds awful. I’m not having a go at Budapest, it was a pretty cool place to visit. The people were really friendly, but I spent most of my time lying on the floor next to the fireplace because I was so sick. That sort of ruined my visit. But from what I did see it was nice!

Finally mulled wine.

BONG! Prague, finally a Christmas Market and an accidental stumble into a jazz club. A really beautiful city. The cobblestone streets take some getting used to though. I was tripping over my feet every 30 seconds and I hadn’t even had nowt to drink! Can you imagine how hard it was AFTER 6 double Jim Beams at the jazz bar? I’m surprised I made it home.

Berlin Wall.

BONG! Germany was fantastic. It was the country I was looking most forward to visiting. I remember during my first year in Toronto I was thinking about taking a trip to Germany. But work and money didn’t allow the freedom to do so. So it sort of sat on the backburner. Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, and Bonn. I had a blast in each city, and with the company of Klara, Jonathan and Karolina, it made it all the better.

In Bruges. Get it? In Bruges! Like the movie!!

BONG! Then there was Bruges. Oh, Bruges. You hooked me with the movie, but you sold me when I arrived. This historic city is well worth your time if you ever get the chance to come over. I spent Christmas here and don’t regret it. Walking to the top of the Belfry and indulging in my own personal one-man pubcrawl around the small center were definite highlights. My last night was so bittersweet, sitting in a pub, drowning in one of their MASSIVE pints and realizing the next afternoon I would be taking a horrendous bus ride back to London. I swear that bus driver was fucking mental.

And then here we are. That’s it. Well that’s it in a nutshell. If I were to go into every detail this post would be a fucking novel. If you’re really interested you can read the past individual posts about each city/country. But I know you won’t. Lazy cunts…

Though I went to some pretty touristy places and sights are obviously a big deal, I think a highlight to traveling is observing the people. Watching and adapting for a short time to how others around the globe live is an eye opener. And it’s made me more patient and focused. This trip was an impulsive decision that I honestly didn’t think I was going to get much out of. I thought I was going to move to London and stay in London. And I’m sort of glad that a job didn’t pan out, it allowed me to put the money I saved up towards something more worthwhile.

Although now I’m returning flat broke…fuck it, it was worth it.

OK here’s my one piece of advice I’ve garnered from all this…travel. I don’t care where you go, but leave your comfort zone. I never wanted to travel before. I was perfectly content going to Orlando every other year with the family and Buffalo/Niagara with the buddies for a cheap shopping trip. I didn’t want to board a plane, I didn’t want to limit myself because I only knew English, and I definitely didn’t think it would be that interesting. But fuck, I was so arrogant, stupid and naïve to think that.

While I don’t believe this has changed me much as a person, it has had its benefits. I do think it’s broadened my mind although I couldn’t tell you how, it’s made me more focused in my goals career-wise, and it’s planted the travel bug in me mind. There’s so much more to see on this planet and I definitely want to make the best of it before the world ends, I get AIDS, the rapture hits, etc. Take your pick.

We’re so comfortable, wired into our electronically run lives that I think some may forget that the world doesn’t only exist in the small box at your fingertips. (And I ain’t talkin’ ’bout a fanny, get yer mind outta the gutter!)

I’m a strong advocate of career first.

I think that’s both a flaw and a strong point. Strong point because it makes you work towards a goal and see the big picture, flaw because you can sometimes have a hard time seeing beyond that goal at what might be more important. Such as life experience.

But there’s no rule against taking some time to travel whilst still climbing those steps to your “Before 30″ deadline. I mean it’s officially 2012 now, you may only have until next December to see some of this planet before the world crumbles into oblivion. IT CAN HAPPEN!

I’m not looking forward to leaving. However I don’t have any other choice, I can barely afford to fly back as it is.

But I am looking forward to grabbing a few pints with familiar faces. And hugging my family, especially those two mutts who were so confused when they heard my voice coming through a laptop on Christmas morning.

So until the next time, thanks to those who kept reading these travel diaries. These diaries I wrote were for me, but it does feel good to look at the stats and see others have visited this blog. Stay tuned for my return to boring blog posts about my life in Toronto, but hopefully with some shooting diaries for Citizen Kane 3000 on the horizon.

And Europe, goodbye you saucy sexy fucking cunt. Thank you for letting me drink my way through a portion of your glory. I can’t wait to dip my Bat-a-rang inside you once again in the future.

Cheers twats.

– Billy Ray. (aka Batman)

The BEST holidays

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