Holy crap, I'm home.
In all honesty, the above statement is somewhat belated. I've been back in Her Majesty's kingdom for just over two weeks, but have been reluctant to turn on the ol' laptop and get on with anything vaguely productive whilst the post-holiday fairy dust has been lingering over my head and the bright lights of Genova still twinkling in my eyes. Long story short - I'm still as lazy as ever. Hurrah!
This won't be a post to rival War and Peace, so don't fret. I'm fully aware that I'm treading dangerously close to 'gap yah' imbecile territory every time I open my mouth and start burbling joyously about our little escapade, but I've done diddly squat in the way of actual work since returning so writing a potted account of events over the past eight weeks will go some way towards assuaging my guilt about being an ageing layabout student type. So here goes.
Enjoyed a cracking family holiday in the Tuscan hillside, about an hour away from Lucca. Incredible food, far too much lazing by the pool and cycling around the old town walls of Lucca was a dream. Plus, I managed to learn some of the basic rudiments of the Italian language, which came in handy.
Took the train to Pisa at insane o'clock and drank far, far too much coffee. Couchsurfed with an inordiantely welcoming couple who cooked us a traditional Italian meal that lasted FOUR HOURS - bliss. We sat on the riverside and watched the Luminara celebrations, which drew a little tear to my eye solely because of the sheer Italian pride showcased. Seriously, if you are anywhere near Pisa on June 16th next year GO TO THE LUMINARA. Those guys know how to party. Next stop - the most expensive place in the known universe, also known as Switzerland.
Rolled into Switzerland and quite frankly were glad to be greeted by lush green fields and typical Swiss farmhouses after a couple of days in the sweltering concrete jungle of Pisa. Bern is a near faultless city - it's just a shame that even a cuppa cost the equivalent of a million pounds or something, so we had to make do with eating banana sandwiches. We jumped in the Aare - like this - watched the city bears having a nice little swim for a substantial chunk of the day, and watched an entire school play in German from our reserved front row seats that our CS host Chris (a primary school teacher) had invited us to. Hitch-hiked to Zurich with a friendly criminal psychologist called Tomas, and watched Garden State with CS host #3 Felix with pizza and plenty of roll-ups.
Southside festival - 50% ful-on party, 50% crippling hangover. There's nothing worse than waking up in a one person tent in 30 degree heat whilst a group of barsting German revellers play Nana Mouskouri's Guten Morgen, Sonnenschine one repeat after necking a bottle of vodka the night before. Chronic headache aside it was a smashing festival experience, the highlight being having the entire Die Artze set translated into English for me by Claudia and Sandra, our newly-acquired festival buds. Ta, like!
Rolled into Stuttgart (twinned with Cardiff, factfinders) on my birthday with a basic plan - get cake, eat cake, find somewhere, anywhere to have our first shower in five days. Booked into an obscenely overpriced hostel, drank a large amount of red wine and, in the absence of my friends and family, embarked upon a mission to befriend everyone in the city. Caused a man to feel very awkward about buying a rubber vagina, danced in the strictly off-limits fountain and was given a balloon sword and belt by a traveling Hungarian clown posse.
Had a slight run in with the German transport police the next day (don't fuck with them), attempted to start hitchhiking to Berlin and ended up in a car crash with a hairdresser called Nina and her cat Pennywise. Slept in a train station overnight before travelling 900 miles in 15 hours to Berlin...by hitching only...