Posts Tagged 2012
It works. Any film that adapts Jack Kerouac’s novel is always going to prove a difficult endeavour. It’s a winding tale of freedom, drink, drugs and blended sexuality which when put to film, risks losing the essence it commands. By packaging freedom on screen, you risk missing the book’s message, but as a factual realisation goes, it’s close to what it needs to be.
Full of strong performances and sweeping vistas, the film bounces around America with raw energy. Racing through the states, high on pot, life and promiscuous behaviour, its director has at least bottled some of the Beat spirit.
It was always going to be a troublesome film. Society is supposedly free from archaic traditionalism, but in some ways it’s as conservative as it’s ever been. The film isn’t for the faint hearted – sexuality is presented in its clearest form – a humanist love, male or female. Recreational drug use seems romantic, creative and right. Whether it’s bombing along at suicidal speeds in a stolen car or pilfering gas, breaking the law is merely a way to make it further down the road.
Amid the Proust, jazz, Benzedrine, orgies and sheer, unadulterated freedom, On The Road presents both sides of Post-War America – the era’s romanticism and also the Beat Generation’s destiny to fail as a cultural ethos.
Fans will be proud of the cinematography, scoring, acting and flittering narrative that cuts across America with exhaustive indifference. Travel and nomadic wandering is a way of life, not a six month break.
You either have it in your blood or you see a different film. Kerouac, Ginsberg and Neal Cassady (the true heroes) realised this before On The Road became the manifesto it was set to be.
On The Road is better reviewed not as a film, but more a way of life captured on screen. This is undeniably achieved in a clear, enthralling manner.
Infectious, wind-in-your-hair indifference to the world’s problems is the message here. When the road calls you it’s impossible to ignore. As Moriarty shows, boredom is the biggest devil here and while his end is lonesome sadness, like all those who pushed the counterculture existence, it’s more about the journey and the thrill that comes with it than the destination.
Dig it, from start to finish.
Last weekend I went to the WWT (The London Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre) for a day of (cold) photography. I’ve added some of the photos to my 2012 showcase (look at the fluffy baby geese!), but a full set is available on Flickr here. I also met Iron Man on the Tube on the way home.
I skipped Lisbon. Being with people meant there was less time to think to myself, and realistically less necessity to share my trip. Aside from spring sniffles surfacing last night (with a pre-emptive packet of Day Nurse in my bag to counter), the journey over was fine.
Ryanair were as welcoming as usual and the flight itself was smooth and quick. Weather at the moment is clear blue skies with a nice temperature. It’s supposed to be warmer tomorrow and Sunday.
Carcassonne, or what I’ve seen of it so far, is a quaint little town. As sleepy as you’d expect from the South of France. Its medieval Disneyland-style castle is beautiful. The sun’s nice and warm, the architecture lovely and the crowds I presume plague the narrow streets during high season, are nonexistent.
I do have to stretch my mind as to why I stay in London…
After lunch I wandered round the medieval city before taking a look at the castle (€8.50). You get good views from its ramparts, though you’d expect that from a hill fortress. After that I went for a little snooze in a nearby park.
Annoyingly it clouded over after an hour, and the wind was too chilly to stay sleeveless so at around 4pm I went into the town centre to do some people watching and read some of my book.
Next came finding the hostel (above), which ironically I’d passed earlier in the day. It’s a converted abbey, so it’s like I’m staying in the opening of The Sound of Music, just without the singing nuns. It’s nice enough and because it’s off season, there’s barely anyone here. I’ve seen a young couple and that’s it. It must be quiet as I booked a dorm room but was given a private one (a lucky turn considering the sudden onset of man-flu).
Dumping my stuff, I went on another walk along Carcassonne’s river before heading back to get an early night.
I thought I was going to escape the blocked nose and up until last night I was breathing fine.
Anyway, people have done a lot more with a lot worse, so I ignore the bunged up feeling and set off for Narbonne. Situated South-East of Carcassonne, Narbonne is a larger coastal town just off the Med.
There’s not really much to see – a gothic cathedral is the centre point (which is highly impressive with quiet cloisters), and various other bits and bobs. The city sits on a river which cuts through the centre attractively. I followed that for a bit but found my cold getting the better of me.
For the next five hours (yes, five) I became French, simply sitting and thinking. There’s something about the continent that rubs off on you – it might be the heat (oh yes, it’s beautiful) or just the architecture / shared conscious.
Anyway, I brought the recommended Haruki Murakami book, Sputnick Sweetheart, with me which was read in entirety either side of naps in the sun. It’d be nice to breathe freely and to have done more walking, but getting a cold without anything to push you on is the best time to get one.
I’ve caught the sun a fair bit on my arms (there hasn’t been one cloud in the sky today). Being a catholic country, I can imagine it doesn’t stir on Sundays, so I should be able to get a decent amount of Southern France architecture done before I get the flight home.
I’m definitely coming back to the south of France – having only really done Nice airport and Cannes, I’m tempted to train hop along the coast one day. Carcassonne’s the right end of the coast to fly to cheaply.
Anyway, I leave you with one message – Dear France, clean up your dog muck, it’s everywhere.
More travelling can be found here.
The last time I was abroad was Cannes for MIPCOM in September 2011. It feels ages ago and while the UK’s been having a ridiculously mild winter, I’m still craving the feeling of sun. As mentioned a while ago, 2012 is a bit of a beast for travelling. I’ve been cutting back on drinking and games/DVDs spending to divert more funds towards fulfilling my travel dreams.
Friday 27th January 2012 – 1.32PM, Standsted Airport
Anyway, Barcelona. Ever since The Japan Travel Diary, I’ve been keen to write about my experiences around the world. I wish I’d done a travel diary for America (or kept the site I’d created in 09). I have the photos, but a day by day account would have been interesting.
It’s particularly helpful for when you’re asked by friends what to see when they visit the same places as you. A friend of mine is visiting Japan in March and I just directed her towards my diary – there’s tons in there and while Lonely Planet helps a lot, there’s various things I’d recommend in the East that Lonely Planet misses.
Tracking back to the point at hand, Catalonia’s jewel Barcelona. I’ve been four times before, but never in a non-family capacity. It’s always been for christenings and weddings, and as a result, I’ve never really done the main sights. For example, Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s famous unfinished church.
That’s top of my list for my sightseeing day tomorrow.
Sunday will be a bit more family orientated (considering my Uncle and Aunt are kindly putting me up for the weekend), but Saturday will be a lot of photography and walking. I’ve got a bit of a cold, which is bad timing especially with the wonderful food, but there are a lot worse things that can happen.
Anyway, I’ll love and leave you at this point. I have a plane to catch.
9.14PM, Sant Cugat
Aside from some sinus issues on the plane and deafness in one ear, the journey was pretty smooth. The bus was easy to find, as was the train – I had a little malfunction with the final stage of the journey but my sense of direction prevailed once again.
My Uncle and Aunt’s new flat is lovely – it’s a real suburban dream. I’ve planned my route for tomorrow using some iPhone tour guide which actually works offline. I used a similar one for Tokyo, but its GPS location features didn’t work. I prefer iPhone travel guides for actual navigation because you can look at your phone without drawing attention to yourself. Lonely Planet guides are good for planning a trip, but they don’t half scream tourist.
I’ve still got a book guide, a DK Top 10 to Barcelona in my bag, but it’ll stay there unless I run out of things to do.
Saturday 28th January 2012 – 4.30PM, Sant Cugat
I’ll keep this brief. Annoyingly it rained the entire day, bar a small respite for Parc Güell. As days go, it was very productive. I got to Sagrada Familia early, avoiding the crowds and getting plenty of photography done. I paid for the audio tour, something I’d really recommend if you’re visiting the church. It was only four Euros more and well worth the money.
After that I caught the Metro to Parc Güell, Gaudi’s famous park. I’d personally not pay for his house – it was fairly expensive for what’s a tiny museum. You could be done in 10 minutes and it’s fairly dear for you actually get. Anyway, it was interesting and provided some context. The sculptures and the architecture in the park are very impressive, and it’s certainly worth walking around for an hour (an experience which would have been nice with a blue sky.
After that I walked through the streets of Barcelona to Casa Mila. Again it was raining, but there were plenty of opportunities for street photography. Case Mila, or more commonly known as La Pedrera, is wonderful. It was my favourite place of the day and it rounded off the sightseeing nicely.
There’s not much else to tell – the rest was family orientated, minus a small walk in Sant Cugat to its monastery and a stunning Cirque du Soleil performance before getting the EasyJet red-eye home. I’ll be going back soon.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. People often say you don’t appreciate your travelling experiences until you’ve returned. That’s a lie – I had a great time in Japan and while there I really did enjoy myself. Having returned to England, I appreciated the amazing experience even more and it spurred me on to make the most of my youth, health and life. Seeing the world is the aim of mine (or at least it is at 23) – everything I do goes towards the next trip. Having just booked some more flights today, I thought I’d share my confirmed trips for 2012.
- Jan – Barcelona Weekend (to see my Uncle)
- March – Lisbon Weekend (with friends)
- June – Rail Trip Round Spain (solo mini adventure)
- Oct/Nov – China 3 Weeks (The Big One)