Tag Archives: Travel

Travel Experience and Philosophy: Too Truthful to Tell Twisty Tales

I could have made my memoir more heroic and interesting, but kept it true to how it was, and written in my diary without knowing where I was really going, or if it would ever be published. I watched the movie Wild last week, which is also a bestselling book: the memoir of a woman who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail. Last year I read the book To Live Outside the Law, which was a lot about travelling in a similar style to me, but in the previous decade, although published a few years after my The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller. Such memoirs have a long history, perhaps back to Marco Polo in the west, so I know mine is nothing special: just another small piece in a big jigsaw of independent travel literature. Like those books, and the music I liked, as well as the war movies such as Platoon, I tried to tell the story from all angles, positive and negative, to show the full picture of humanity’s mind, culture and society; to provide my little addition to its knowledge, in the hope that it improves it for this and future generations, and the world about us.

Ironically, humanity seems to be retreating into the more extreme sides, right and left, black and white and looking for heroes who show no ‘weakness’ (‘weaknesses’ such as diplomacy, emotion, compassion, love, kindness etc). Sometimes this is irrational, but other times it is because people take advantage of the ‘weak’.

World Not Safe, or U.K.!

Some U.K. and European girls and women, and boys, who’ve tried to be ‘nice’ to other demographics, like the government and public institutions advised (demanded), have been raped, tortured, imprisoned and prostituted.

Some older people have lost their life savings because they tried to be ‘nice’ to people who phoned them, pretending to be a helpful adviser.

While I recently featured the Scorpions from Hannover singing the ‘Wind of Change’, fans of the Hannover football team were recently instigating crowd trouble in England (according to U.K. media). English fans who listened to the football association and government to go to Euro 2016 in peace were attacked by other fans in a targeted attack. Several tourists and travellers have died around Europe, although many more have misbehaved.

When I wrote The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller I thought I might save some lives, or prevent some assaults and rapes, and maybe I have, that I don’t know of. However, I didn’t even follow its lead myself, and it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve really tried to control my drinking, with bingeing always putting myself in danger; I always knew that, but by the time I reached what I call the Event Horizon, using an astronomy analogy, I usually didn’t care; especially if I was out with other people, and the night was still young… or there was somewhere open and something going on later in the night!

When I drink, and most people I think, we try and get to that nice merry place where we’re more confident and happy, and try and stay there, like circling the Event Horizon of Black Holes, according to astronomy. However, as gravity is very strong in space, so is the temptation to go further and further into the mind when drinking, thinking it will be an improvement. Maybe it is in an unconscious way; but the trouble is you are in a public place and comatose, and can’t remember it the next day, as nothing is supposed to escape from a Black Hole in space; we can send probes into our brain’s black hole, but can’t recover the data!

I was always a party animal looking for something different, or maybe just something more exciting. So I know people likely to be reading this in a positive way are not going to listen that much to me, or let them divert them from their search, but hopefully it’ll provide a little guidance if they’re open to it. I don’t think they’ll find anything different to me and all the other deep-thinking-searchers before me, but they’ll probably want to travel there anyway, as people still want to travel around the world to places already discovered and that they can see on T.V. etc.

I don’t ask anybody for personal trust, because I don’t think anybody should fully trust anybody, any country or any situation. Some people win your trust, often deservedly, or have your trust from childhood; family etc; and there will be times you’ll want to trust people, and I hope it works for you. Like the movie Wild depicts, going out into the world has its risks and I hope you’re one of the lucky ones; or not one of the ‘unlucky’ ones anyway, as most people are more good than bad.

Yugoslavia 1987 Travel Receipts

One of the reasons for the above soliloquy is that after hitching from Rome to Venice and the Italy-Yugoslavia border, and trying to hitch-hike for a couple of hours, having heard it was nigh on impossible in the communist country, with most traffic small cars full of family members, I caught a bus to Ljubljana, now capital of Slovenia. From there I caught a train to Belgrade.

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I took my only photo in the country of the Danube and Sava confluence from Castle Kalemegdan:

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Skopje Train Tickets

I then took the train to Skopje, and the next day to Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

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Writing Home to Myself: Sending Diary

There were a lot of times when I was travelling I wished I was totally free of humanity; with no relations to worry about, or worry about them worrying about me; but family is good in other ways, and has benefits such as being a base. The way I travelled back in the 1980s, before all the portable and online technology of today, I may not have kept a diary together, and been able to write the book I did.

First Batch of Diary

The arriving in Rome day of my diary, scanned into a couple of posts ago, was the last of 17 pages of what I think was originally a notepad I sent home to myself from Rome; containing my journey hitch-hiking from west Wales via Belgium, France and northern Spain from August 25th to September 16th, 1987.

Here’s a scan of the envelope, with the postage wrong in typical traveller style:

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I don’t know what the situation is now for long-term travellers, I guess most just do it online, but back then you usually relied on getting your mail sent to ‘poste restante’ at post offices around the world, providing a post office address that you planned to visit in a couple of months.

Rome Photos Built on Fantastic Day

This post is dedicated to a fantastic Italian woman from Milan, and a nice one from Reggio Emilia, and the good Italians I’ve met on my visits there and elsewhere, as well as my fellow campers at Camp Nomentano in 1987!

There’s an old saying that goes something like ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’; but I sightsaw it in a day; well, enough for me, although I probably only saw a small amount of what there is to see, and that from a just the surface category.

A Canadian traveller staying at Camp Nomentano reluctantly went sightseeing with me, showing me around, as he’d already done it. It was an amazing day, with lots of stunning sights on a hot sunny day. We also went to see the busking team at their regular slot. I took three photos: of the Colisseum, St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and the Altare della Patria ([alˈtaːre della ˈpaːtrja]; English: “Altar of the Fatherland”) [Wikipedia], having to now look up the latter.

Heavy Rock Videos and Road Trip Music Spain to Italy in 1987

After an eventful time in northern Spain my last day was a good one socialising with a fellow worker-traveller in Figueres, home of Salvador Dali. The first day’s diary below covers that. I then hitched across the south of France into northern Italy, where the hitching was good, and the Riviera cliffs to beaches scenery even better. I spent a night sharing a room in Nice with another hitcher I shared a lift with, after his suggestion. I briefly stopped in Pisa and Florence, before reaching Rome, told in the second day’s diary below. The whole journey’s told in my memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller. If you want to see the diary days in-between these two, please request.

Scorpions and AC/DC in Spain, 1987 Hitch-hiking Lifts

I didn’t take any photos in Spain or collect any memorabilia, apart from a couple of pesetas; I probably would have in Barcelona, but as my diary extracts show, my lift took me straight past it. I kept a coin or two; or note if that’s all there was, as in some countries; from each country. Here’s a photo of the two peseta coins I kept:

Hitch-hiking in Northern Spain

As my diary extracts show, hitch-hiking in northern Spain (Basque region) was difficult, but the lifts were eventful when they happened. Some Germans lifted my mood playing the Scorpions, and a local put AC/DC on.

The German ‘Scorpions’ lift, walking above Zaragoza and arriving in Figueres (I found out while there it was Salvador Dali’s birthplace: the museum was closed as it was a Saturday!) all made it into my fantasy fiction travel around Europe to Google Maps original concept XaW Files: Beyond Humanity book; cross-referencing through time and writing genres, via the motorways and crossroads of my mind; neurons of memory and creativity perhaps travelling from different parts of my brain, and meeting at the greenYgreyesque corpus callosum.

The Zaragoza to Figueres lift started off a spaghetti western storyline in Chapter 6 Episode 18: ‘I had felt shimmering significance in Figueres, time distortion in Barcelona and at a crossroads in Zaragoza.’ I had made it to Barcelona in 2013.

The German Scorpions lift was referenced in a fantasy storyline with the real Scorpions singer Klaus Meine, twisting it around to him having read my memoir, which is of course separate to the greenYgrey trilogy: ‘Klaus was very understanding about it, and gave me a lift to Hannover, his home town, which was on my way west. He played the Scorpions’ Worldwide Live album on the way, which is one of my all-time favourites. I told him I’d referenced a couple of Scorpions songs in the opening paragraph, and he said that was a coincidence, because our drive reminded him of one in The Guns N’ Roses Worker Traveller.’

My 1987 Diary 

Here’s my diary recording my brief time in Spain. I had intended spending longer, but as I write in the diary, the hitching wasn’t very good.

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In 2005, after a decade in further education I became Dr. Marc Latham, the Chav Philosopher; possibly Blighty’s best value and poorest doctor of philosophy. My memoir, poetry and fiction books are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marc-Latham/e/B004SP40J0/

Paris, 1987, Eiffel Tower Experience Monumental!

Although travel for the sake of travel was the main reason for my first travelling experience thirty years ago, I wanted to see as much of the world as possible, with significant world sites second only to beaches at the time; I originally only planned to do Europe and North America, a hitch-hiking sojourn ending in L.A., then buzzing with my favourite rock and metal music. So reaching Paris after a few days was totally uplifting and quite mindblowing, especially as the sun was shining hot summer heat. It would stay mainly sunny for the rest of my trip over the next month, until reaching Athens at the end of September. Here’s the photos I took in Paris, from and of, the Eiffel Tower:

This memoir was published as The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, and like Marc Latham’s other books is available to buy or borrow on Amazon and some great big bookshops.

Historic Travel Document (for me anyway!): First Currency Changing Document in Lille, France

I know there are lots of nice places in Belgium (especially for art and history, such as shown in the In Bruges movie), but I was glad to get out of there after my first day on the continent. It had started well, with a lift from Ostend port to the edge of Brussels, but it was raining all the time there, and it was ages before I got a lift. I later pitched my tent in a field, which flooded after more rain! So I was glad to get into France, which had been my initial first destination before being offered the return ticket to Ostend.

I took my first photo in Lille, featured a couple of blog posts ago in the first of this series looking back at my first travel 30 years ago, and also made my first sterling to foreign currency transaction; in the pre-Euro Europe. Here’s the receipt:

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I know countries’ borders are only on maps, ground and water, and not in the weather; and was probably due to it being another day rather than country, but it did dry up in France, and Paris greeted me with hot summer sunshine. More of that next time…

My first travel memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, was published by Chipmunka, and I have since written several more, available on Amazon.

Appetite for Destruction Before Leaving Blighty Nearly Thirty Years Ago

I think the first stamp is when I left the U.K. on August 25th, 1987 but I’m not sure. It fits in with my departure date, so probably is. There weren’t many stamps after that, until I got to Greece at the end of the continental Europe journey just over a month later.

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Keeping a Diary to Write like Kerouac

I kept a diary on loose paper at first, before buying exercise books along the way. I posted them home. Here’s the first day and its eve, when I wrote of listening to Guns N’ Roses’s Appetite for Destruction (30th anniversary tomorrow!) before leaving:

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Here’s an exercise book from later in the trip, where I reference Ozzy (Diary of a Madman), Anthrax (NFL: Nice F***ing Life) and Lynyrd Skynyrd/Blues Brothers (Sweet Home Alabama or Chicago) and proclaim my ambitions to write a Kerouac On The Road (updated to the highest musical level by Guns N’ Roses’s Appetite for Destruction, following other street living songwriters such as AC/DC, Van Halen, Rose Tattoo and Motley Crue) style memoir (I’ve Lived It So You Can Read It).

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My first travel memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, was published by Chipmunka, and I have since written several more books, available on Amazon.

Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction Always One Month Ahead: Passport to France

When I decided to finish this blog off to commemorate 30 years since my travels started last week I didn’t know Guns N’ Roses were planning a thirtieth anniversary event for Appetite for Destruction. Today I read they are playing a special AFD gig in the Apollo, New York on Friday July 21st to mark its 30th anniversary/birthday on Planet Rock and Classic Rock. Best of luck to the band and fans for that… will Izzy and Steven be there… hopefully!

Passport and France Photos

When I left home and travelled to the European continent a month and four days after AFD was released I had a passport from 1982 with the photo of me as I was then: a typical young rock and metaller with hair down to shoulders and a denim shirt:

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After hitching from the Belgian coast via the outskirts of Brussels I reached Lille and took my first photo of my travels in its main central square. The blog continues after the photo, which includes a big space below it from the scanning:

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My first travel memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, was published by Chipmunka, and I have since written several more, available on Amazon.

I’ll continue blogging my travels, which greatly influenced my fantasy travel trilogy pioneering the new concept of writing fiction from Google Maps and web information.

First Travel Departure 30 Years Anniversary Next Month

Travel 25 years has become 30, with a trip to the beautiful Baltic last year to complete my 12 years – marathon every 3 years until 50 – ambition in riveting Riga, Latvia, continuing to enchanting Estonia (Parnu and Tallinn) and holistic Helsinki, Finland; articles published on TravelThruHistory and available from the above links. I’ve also been on trips around the U.K., from Abbey Wood in Kent to John O’ Groats on the northern tip of Scotland and the U.K., and hobo hiked around Yorkshire and Cleveland.

Hobo Travelling Trip Down Memory Lane… Coastal Path

In May I recaptured some of the ethos of my first trip by hiking and camping from Scarborough to Withernsea through Hornsea (about 55-60 miles over three days). Some of the secluded beaches were particularly reminiscent of some of the European deserts if I ignored the sea to the side (seeing Hornsea’s Marine Bar in the desert was like a movie mirage!); while being able to dip into the sea and waking up to the rising sun reminded me of times living on the beach. The birdlife on the chalk cliffs and stacks from Bempton to Flamborough Head looked truly world-class.

Last month I did an even longer walk from Helmsley to Scarborough (about 90 miles over four days), seeing some nice dales scenery, especially around Hawnby, and walked down the Cleveland Way coastal path from Saltburn-by-the-Sea; a picturesque coastal town like a bigger version of the more southerly villages of Staithes, Runswick Bay and Robin Hood’s Bay either side of Whitby.

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Secluded beaches above Scarborough were a great way to finish the walk on a sunny Sunday, and the town had great food and drink to replenish and refresh (UNESCO site(s) of future after Lake District celebrating award on weekend!?).

 

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Robin Hood’s Bay sunset on last night of my hike.

Guns N’ Roses Reunion Trip down Memory Lane… Balmy Day

My visit to Abbey Wood campsite, an idyllic green space replete with wild parakeets in the trees, was to see Guns N’ Roses at the Olympic Stadium, London, with Duff and Slash rejoining last year for their current very successful world tour. The gig reminded me of Wembley Stadium in 1991, which was also hot and sunny.

I was just getting to know Guns N’ Roses’s Appetite for Destruction this time 30 years ago, and it provided the main soundtrack to my travels.

 

I left on August 25th, 1987, and I’ll hopefully complete this site’s backwards chronology working to that date this year in 2017. My first eleven months journey was originally just supposed to be around Europe, but extended to the Middle-East mainly through a desire for more sunshine warmth over the winter; with tourist sites a secondary factor.

It was immortalised in my memoir The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, published by Chipmunka, realising an ambition I’d had since reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road: to travel, keep a diary and write a book about it.

The Guns 'n' Roses Worker - Traveller

That fulfilled my writing ambition, but I’ve continued writing for a decade; fulfilling no more ambitions, for there were none; but creating some new concepts, supporting some good causes and improving my writing.

My name is Marc Latham, and I’m still alive. My story is true, and I’ll prove what I can to you…