18 September 2007

Introduction to the Two Week Road Trip

So I had a few personal problems and hit a pretty low point in my life. This happens to everyone at least a few times.

Fortunately my housemate Keith had just a few nights earlier mentioned how he had been wanting to travel. Needless to say I jumped on this opportunity faster than a rabbit in heat and mentioned a trip to poland. He was more than up for this but soon came up with a far superior idea.

Keiths old faithful BMW was a bit the worse for wear, a random squeaking while in transit from one of the wheels, a few dents and a cam shaft that was about to give were the major issues. So in his magnificence he decided to take the old beemer on one final trip around europe, a road trip if you will.

This road trip would be set to cover several major countries, and a few of the less major ones like Lichenstein, which is not so much a country as an extended border crossing.

Admittedly at this point we did not plan on passing through such countries, infact we were surprised by how far our travels took us and which parts we enjoyed.

But back on track, plans where underway, this involved Keith doing meticulous route planning, milage and time estimations, research on countries and picking up a few foreign phrases. I took on the roles of thinking 'I wouldnt mind going by Munic and Spain is pretty damn nice this time of year'

So with destinations in mind I began to make my preperations for the trip. Cash is always one of the more important things, so my first stop off was to get some of my good british pounds exchanged into Euros. There are a few places that do this commision free, the best rates at the time however were Marks and Sparks and the post office.

Anyone who has ever had to enter he post office will soon know what it feels like to be in a beaurocrats dream after too much cheese eaten in haste before his bedtime. After queuing for a minimum of 33 minutes and 28 seconds you will be presented with a multitudes of forms which are required for the simplest of tasks. It is for instance the only time I have been asked to sign a form after buying a roll of packing tape and some brown paper.

Once you have filled the forms in required for your purchase or service they will ask you to rejoin the queue. This time the minimum queuing time will be over 67 minutes and 41 seconds, since the queuing time is inversely proportionate to the amount of time you need to spend with the woman at the desk. If for instance you are merely wishing to return a pen you borrowed by the time you reach the front of the desk you will have grand children and mutated hovering shrimp will have taken over the world.

For these reasons I decided to go to the marks and spencers currency exchange. The Marks and Spencers Currency Exchange is conveniantly located on the top floor at he back of the room behind a lot of clothes. This location has a distinct advantage, that being I can find it before all the short people. The queue was pretty short as I joined up, looking at the signs saying they accepted visa I expected this to be a quick job.

Before I move on let me explain a little system i put in place at the start of august. Due to financial constraints I started a system to limit my spending on a night. This involved me having two wallets, one for nights out and one for living. Each week I put so much into my going out wallet and limit myself to that amount.

But back to the story, I walked up to the helpful looking cashier and asked to transfer £350 of my strong British Pounds into approximately 500 of those weak Euros and handed her my credit card. Here she spoilt my wandering dream of british dominance.

"Can I have some ID please" she chirruped in a slightly high pitched voice.

Being blissfully unaware of my unintended cockup I say no problem and went to hand her my drivers license. untill I realised it was in my drinking wallet.

At this point you have to realsie I have nearly 10 people stood behind me, watching my foolish anticts with the terminally bored faces of a British queuer. I mention to the lady that I may have forgotten my ID, to which the charming young woman says in a slightly louder than neccessary voice that if I do not have any ID I cannot pay by card and will have to get some money out of the cash machine down stairs.

The cash machines ni Marks and Spencers are conveniantly hidded in a corner surrounded by high shelves of foodstuffs and so forth. I see the queue at thesse machines and decide to go next door to the Halifax ATMs.

These are normally quite quick to get to, both queues have 2 people in them, so i position myself inbetween them both in an attempt to make my time saving decision of which queue to join at the last minute. I noticed the woman in the right queue seemed to be finishing but I decided to wait to make absolutely sure.

Unfortunately I was joined just a little too late. A short balding man with jam jar glasses appeared behind me and with infallible slowness attempted to move into the right hand queue. I saw this move coming a mile off, HaHa! I though as I jumped into the quicker queue before him, pleased with the way I had pronounced the capitals through the inner monologue of my mind.

But here tragedy struck, the original woman/child combo in the other queue had departed and the woman behind her was just checking her balance, HER BALANCE! I mean come on who doesnt do that online nowdays. After she had done that she walked off pleased with her apparent richness. the man was now ahead of me, withonly one person left, the man infront of him, a morbid looking affair, went to check his balance too, sweat started to drip down my forehead.

Meanwhile the person at the front of our queue had moved off, leaving me with one person between me and the grail of the till. The bespeckled man grinned at me, not realising his morbid preceeding ATM user was now going to withdraw cash. Then a miracle happened. The old woman infront of me, a killer in the world of speed, sighed and walked off. At exactly the same moment the person using the till took their cash and departed.

Then, the unholy mother abuser in the jam jar glasses actually tried, and i cannot believe this! He actually tried to slip onto that cash machine!

I was not going to take this obvious shunting into my space, so speedier than a squirrel on a caffine high I jumped to the machine and slammed my card in, much to the annoyance of the petite agressor who was now seething as the people behind him had moved forward, leaving him yet again stuck behind me.

Needless to say I made sure I took the cash out of two seperate accounts, checking the balance on each one.

Fortunately after that it went fairly smoothly, it was a bit of an in and out job. The escalators where in true M & S fasion designed to make getting to the top easy but require you to walk half way around the store to reach the next one taking you down. A fantastic marketting structure, but a pain in the scrotum when you are late back for work.

So with a smile on my face (You cannot have a big wad of notes in your hand and be unhappy) I proceeded back to work, only marginally late and looking forward to the holiday ahead.



Cash machine dispenser tip number one : Put in some plucky work with the elbows.

Works for me

Lichenstein eh?

Try Lithuania and Latvia (they begin with an L too). With a wad in yer hand yer'll be a prince out there. Beer's dirt cheap.

Moo said...

Look forward to hearing about the hols!