Archive for October, 2013

SOTM World Tour – Europe Part I

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

eiffel_towerParis was the first stop on the Someone Once Told Me World Tour, as any excuse to visit that fair city is a good one in my book.

When I got there, I was nervous. I was certainly excited by the prospect of a year’s travel around the globe, no night shifts (apart from the odd overnight flight) spent in the BBC newsroom and the promise of adventure, and not least because I was travelling with my girlfriend, Adventurous Kate.

But I always feel some trepidation when embarking upon an overseas journey. I always think something’s going to prove to be a fly in the ointment, making me miss my flight in one way or another. (Incidentally, although I’ve had a few narrow squeaks in my time, I’ve never actually missed the final boarding call.)

Still, the prospect of hitching so many rides on planes, trains and automobiles, sleeping who-knows-where and worrying about whether I had enough cash for this trip was playing on my mind. So lovely Paris, to stay with my good English friend Marie Claire, was a gentle enough start to proceedings.

parisOnce there, I very quickly worked out that street photography would also be playing a part in my journey to find out what people around the world have been told.

I came out of Marie Claire’s place one day and saw these two characters skipping down the street.

Let’s assume he’s a grandfather and that this is his child’s child.

I had little time to react so I ran on ahead, pulled out my iPhone and captured them as they passed in front of a large door, the best backdrop in the street really.

I later posted the image on Instagram.

While in Paris I found my most fruitful SOTM efforts at a charming bar called Cafe Rouge (not the same as the UK chain) in the Marais where Marie Claire’s book club had kindly gathered for my purposes.

I proceeded to gather scribbled memoirs in French, English, and also Russian, reflecting the eclectic nature of the Parisian population.

Even though it’s not in French, the one you see below was a particular favourite from that happy evening, as I love the way this chap held himself.

I had wanted to use this greengrocer’s backdrop across the street from the moment I saw it. Those sort of shops in Paris always make me think of the film Amelie.

Then Kate and I headed to Geneva as I had lined up an interview on World Radio Switzerland. The journey down was fraught with problems as all the fast trains were booked, meaning we had to take one that chugged along for about 5 hours. And there was not a drop to drink or a crumb to munch on during that whole time, amazingly.

Luckily we happened to have sustenance with us and there were plugs at least, so we could use our computers the whole way. Those who like to blog and love their computers will understand how important this was…

I was interviewed the next day by the charming Jo Fahy at WRS, a chat which you can listen to here, and managed to bag her SOTM too.

Our next stop was Bologna, Italy, where Kate and I had both been invited to participate in the BlogVille project, run by the Emilia Romagna tourism board. If you haven’t been to that region of Italy then you really should go. The food, architecture, scenery and general ambiance are all very sweet indeed.

While there I was lucky enough to meet Fabio Lamborghini, whose late uncle Ferruccio had created that brand of supercars, having already put his rather gifted hand to many engineering products, including a range of tractors. Fabio is now director of the Lamborghini family’s museum.

This is a Countach, one of the gorgeous cars in that place, which looked rather like the inside of my head when I was 8.

countachFabio is a real gent, quite a character and he was kind enough to take part in SOTM, passing on a bit of advice from his uncle, who apparently told Fabio not to spend too much money if he wanted to keep being wealthy.

There was a delicious irony about Ferruccio, whose cars are affordable only by millionaires, advising members of his own family not to part with their cash, of course. You can see me below on the right, with the man himself in the middle and Melvin Boecher of Traveldudes.

lamboAnd it was while we were in Bologna that we took a journey into nearby San Marino, which claims to be the world’s oldest and smallest republic.

Our excellent BlogVille host Nicholas,  a dashing and resourceful chap, knew the goalkeeper for the San Marino football team, who are a brave bunch and no mistake. With a population of some 31,000 it’s a wonder they can put together a squad at all, and they regularly suffer some heavy defeats.

sanmarinoAldo Simoncini was in goal when Germany beat San Marino 13-0 and he was between the sticks again when England rattled 8 past them, without reply.

Despite all this he was a cheerful chap and chose a SOTM quote tweeted to him regarding his performance in a 4-0 defeat by Italy. By all accounts the score should have been much higher and Aldo was widely praised for keeping the score down on that occasion.

08072013After that, Kate and I headed deeper into mainland Europe, in search of more SOTMs. More of all this next time.