This is the letter I sent home (?).
Star date: 5752
I bet you have all been wondering what has happened to Thornton Heath’s Marco Polo. Well read on.
I took a plane to Gibraltar with my bike and the intention of working the summer season- failed. I decided to cycle around Andalucía, took a train to Madrid, did not like it, and another to Barcelona. I applied for jobs teaching English- failed. So, I decided to cycle the world. This did not seem to daunting as, if you keep in the same direction, eventually you will end up where you started; a reasonable option.
Whilst I was in Spain I drank sherry in Jerez, danced flamingo in Andalucia, ate rock in Gibraltar, played bingo in Granada, but I am not going to tell you what I did in Tossa de Mar.
Doing the opposite of Dick Whittington, I headed East. I roughed it by sleeping wherever I could find a spot; under a tree, in a drain pipe, bushes, in a field, anywhere I felt was safe. This was to be my daily schedule- cycle till dusk, eat some food, consume large quantities of wine, crash.
In France, one morning, I was woken by an old man who owned the vineyard I slept in. He found it hilarious that I should be there. In Italy, another old man was furious. He shouted and moaned; tough. All I had with me was 1 rucksack and a sheet. I put on all my clothes and socks. Most nights were a bit chilly, but I survived. Every few days I would check into a hotel, just because.
The mosquitoes loved me- fresh meat. The night I spent on Corsica was in a bush. I was so tired from making the whole island in a day that I did not care about the buzzing. I covered up and was severely bitten but only on the face, not a problem. The worst was in Greece. They went through the socks I had on my hands and I awoke to a hundred bites. My wrists looked as though they had red sweat bands. You know you should not scratch, but.
From Barcelona, through Girona, on to Montpellier where I was to have 3 mechanical breakdowns, the bike that is. The bicycle repair man managed to fix it after a Gallic shrug. I had to spend 3 nights in the Youth Hostel. I met some smashing people as well as a harmonica player who busked in the town square. I always thought I would meet Bruno again, but never have. Maybe he runs a big multi-national company.
Travelling on your own does strange things to your brain. I started singing, at first to myself and then out loud. The starting song would always be ‘Norwegian Wood’, but then I developed my own music, just because. I had not done this since school. I devised a rock opera based on a Latin American country that had a brutal dictatorship. I played the role of the good guy that would solve all of the world’s problems. I felt I was winning the battle with insanity. Good job nobody knew me.
On to Marseilles and a ferry to Corsica. I arrived at dawn and drank my Café au lit watching the sunrise. Another ferry to Sardinia where they have the biggest pizzas in the world. I realised that the Italians were the second worst linguists after us and bought a phrase book. It was over-priced and from Italian to English. I can remember his smirk as he knew I had no choice.
I was wondering if the Eternal City would still be there. It was. They really liked the Ninja Turtles there as everywhere was named after them. They even let one of them paint a ceiling, but he did miss a bit and you can see the numbers seeping through. (tbc)