Tag Archives: personal

Download Festival

I’ve been to plenty of music festivals in my time; Weekenders like Reading, Hevy, Beautiful Days, Buddha Fields and even the tiny Plymouth Festival, plus a load of one-dayers such as Hit the Deck and Slam Dunk, but this was the first time I experienced the biggest specifically Rock and Metal fest in the UK.

IMG_20170609_191453

Going with a couple of mates, we drove in each day, staying at an AirBnB nearby rather than paying the same amount for the pleasure of sleeping in a field. While it takes away from the fun festival vibe a bit, as gentlemen of our age it was a lot more comfortable.

IMG_20170610_125558We arrived to join the long queues to get our wristbands on the first day, sadly missing the first band we were hoping to catch. However once in it felt much like the usual festival affair, a fair stages scattered over a couple acres of land, littered with food stands between and the usual mix of hippy or gothic clothing stalls. We were there for the music though, and were quickly watching the bands hit the stages. There was a reasonable distance between each area, but with the RAW wrestling tent in between at least we had something to giggle at as we walked past.

IMG_20170610_190541For me, the smaller Avalanche stage was the best, with a nice variety of heavier metalcore, post-hardcore, pop-punk and new wave emo bands to keep me happy. The main stage obviously hosted the bigger of the bands, with an interesting mix throughout the day, mostly hard rock and straight up metal. The second stage seemed to be more strictly metal bands of various descriptions. It’s always entertaining to find a brutally heavy metal band that are chatty and friendly between songs, the Swedish seem to be pretty good at this, with both In Flames and legendary Opeth cheerfully bantered with the crowd.

IMG_20170610_222439As far as best bands of the weekend a few really stood out. Steel Panther certainly put on the best show visually, with close to a hundred girls on stage to party with them, while their chat between songs was on point. Probably not for everyone, with the crude nature of the jokes, but to raise a laugh from an audience of that size is impressive. Moose Blood put on a great show, as did Basement, a couple of English bands who have revamped the emo/pop-punk/rock scene with a fresh attitude and new approach, a departure from the auto-tune and backing tracks of many scene bands recently. The King Blues put on a good show with a new bunch of musicians, but it was the legendary big bands that really made the biggest impact. Prophets of Rage, System of a Down, Biffy Clyro, A Day To Remember, all smashing their sets on the main stage.

IMG_20170611_181018There were plenty more that were seen, but that missed the mark as far as my tastes went, but what was most interesting was the people there. I’ve always stayed clear of the metal genre, finding it a little trite and contrived to really enjoy, but metalheads, especially those past their teenage years are genuinely very sweet people, there were no fights or issues with anyone, and it was very nice to see everyone there just getting along and enjoying the music. Despite the line-up featuring some pretty un-metal bands, there was no rivalry or animosity between any of the festival goers and the atmosphere was very positive, which I think was helped massively by the pleasant weather.

The line-up each year has always been borderline for my tastes, a few good bands, but not usually enough to make me want to pay the full price to go. However with the Busabout season looming it was the only festival I was likely to get to go to, and I’m glad we decided to go. Overall, not as mind-blowing as some of the other fests (RIP Hevy) but still highly enjoyable overall.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Advertisements

Kos and Bodrum – places to pass through

After my trip around Rhodes, I tasked myself with finding my way into Turkey. I was very keen to see Istanbul but thought it would be nice to take the scenic route. This meant taking a couple of ferries, one to Kos, and the next along to Bodrum.

IMG_20160830_123416965

Leaving my trusty quad outside the shop I’d rented it from in the early hours I made my way to the port, and found it easy enough to find the right boat, buy a ticket on the quay and jump on board. Several hours and one nap later I arrived at the island of Kos. Quite striking on arrival thanks to the impressive fort built on the harbour side. It also had a wonderful greenness to it that was missing from Rhodes. Even a famous tree, supposedly the tree under which Hippocrates taught students medicine.

IMG_20160830_123523239_HDR

I wasted no time and paid the reasonable price for entry into the castle. It’s probably more impressive from the outside, but still nice to have a look around especially as I had time to fill. There’s nothing in there other than walls, but having a clamber around is entertaining enough. It was easily the highlight of Kos town though, and it would’ve been nice to spend a little more time in there.

IMG_20160830_134507569After leaving I strolled through the town, plenty of tacky looking party bars offering various drinks offers, and lots of restaurants well stocked with English food. Have to admit was a surprise at first, but as the town was explore, more and more English accents were heard. There’s a small Roman amphitheatre out the back side of town, small but in excellent condition and free to have a look at. Worth the walk out if you have some time. A couple other little sights, temples, gates and walls make the town a little more interesting, but only a couple hours after arriving I was ready to head on. I got a tasty breakfast and prepared to wait for the next ferry.

IMG_20160830_151348792

IMG_20160830_123922437_HDRBodrum also has a castle on the harbour side, but with a much higher price tag I decided to skip it. How different can another fort be? Winding my way through the packed market streets and long lanes of tourist shops hammered home that this was not an authentic Turkish town at all, but a tourist coastal resort. My hotel was hiding on the hill up behind the main strip, quiet but surprisingly big, the rooms were comfortable and it worked well as a base for the couple days I was there.

That evening I strolled down to the waterfront, the over-priced restaurants crowding the edge of marina, but if you head back just one street, the view isn’t so fancy, but the food and the service more than make up for it, not to mention the price. A couple of shops caught the eye, not all the usual tourist affairs, but there’s more than enough places to get lame souvenirs and knock off high street brands. One shop was an agent, selling the local activities, and after collecting some brochures I committed to a boat cruise and a Turkish bath experience, far cheaper than I thought possible, to good to be true?

IMG_20160831_105354743_HDRI’d seen a few cheesy pirate themed party boats, and I made sure to check that I wasn’t on one of those, but promises in Turkey don’t always work out, and after boarding the Barbossa I found a nice seat away from the pumping dance anthems and had a nice read. The boat stopped frequently to let us take a swim, although each stop was very much like the other. Lunch was served and was perfectly reasonable, but the return journey was the most interesting, a stop at a cave, said to be the bathing spot for Cleopatra with cleansing mud.IMG_20160831_161327505_HDRSo pay a little extra and swim inside the dark cave, rocks and mud and plenty other people to trip over as well, smear yourself with some mud and feel the healing effects. Not a life changing experience, but quite amusing. There’s a trough outside filled with the mud, making it nice and easy to cover your whole body, and of course get some selfies as it dries. We were blasted with the hose before we could get back onboard and then the big surprise happened.

IMG_20160831_165850381The dragons head mascot on the top deck starts spewing foam from it’s mouth, almost covering the whole boat. The music is pumped and the boat is now a foam party. A surreal experience and certainly a surprise.

Once off the boat I had my transfer to the Turkish bath, where I bath, got scrubbed roughly by a big Turk and felt pretty good about it afterwards. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes, and is something that’s well worth experiencing. Perhaps a more expensive and fancy facility would have felt a little slicker, but I do feel as though I can tick that experience off my bucketlist.

IMG_20160831_115338999

Overall I found both Kos and Bodrum far too touristy for my liking, neither town had anything to offer other than pricey restaurants and souvenir shops. The weather is good though, and I can imagine British people enjoying a week of sun and sand in either easy enough though, but I was glad to be heading to the airport to fly over to Istanbul. The upside though, I got to try my first genuinely Turkish Turkish kebab.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Festival Season Pt.2 Music Festivals in Spain – BBK and Benicassim

It’s a bit lazy of me to roll both these in together, but for every difference, there’s a similarity. While BBK is in the town of Bilbao in the north of Spain, and Benicassim (or FIB as it’s known officially and by locals) is in Benicassim on the south coast both run with a similar attitude of easy going enjoyment of music, a relaxed atmosphere and late nights.

img_20160715_202258044

img_20160707_222802619I’m not talking late nights like British or Australian festivals where the headliner will wrap up around midnight or 1am, after which the noise curfew kicks in and it all goes quiet, I’m talking headliners starting after 2am, and the music going through until 6. It actually makes for an interestingly diverse event, with more of the bands playing before midnight and the DJs on afterwards, so while the headliners are the peak, it doesn’t drop off instantly leaving several thousand pumped up (and drunk) festival goers with nowhere to go. Instead those that have reached their limit can head to bed, while those who are just getting started have plenty of time to blow off their steam.

img_20160708_213713054_hdrBBK, up in the hills above Bilbao focuses more on the indie rock for it’s main headliners, and this year hosted some great acts including, Foals, The Pixies, Editors, Aussie favourites Tame Impala, New Order and plenty more. Quite a small arena with two main stages which alternated acts meant it was easy to catch all the big names, while a third ‘band’ stage had a few more obscure acts and the forest hosted trance DJs late into the wee hours. The setting is very cool, the top of the hill, overlooking the city, with rocky outcrops and patches of woodlandOver the course of three days I saw a good few bands, highlights certainly were Foals, and the newly popular punk band Slaves, impressive performances from The Pixies, Hot Chip and Arcade Fire as well.

img_20160716_244919273Bilbao town has one major attraction, the Guggenheim museum. A spectacle from inside and out, it is a masterpiece of modern architecture, covered in shiny titanium tiles it gleams in the sun. The collection of artwork inside is very impressive as well, having been made available to view for the public by Peggy Guggenheim, the heiress that had received the vast collection, so much artwork there are several Guggenheim museums around the world. That’s not all there is though, a fascinating old building has been converted to contain three, free standing modern buildings on pillars, but that’s not all, there’s a swimming pool on the roof, with a glass bottom. So while you’re wandering through the main hall you may notice some odd shaded shadows drifting by. The old city offers some lovely walks, and probably the best food in the city, with pintxos on offer in every other building. There’s a great park there as well, on the side of the hill, a good climb, although I wouldn’t recommend it at the peak of the midday heat. The city has just enough to keep you interested during the day, if you’re not too busy sleeping off the previous nights fun.

img_20160714_200223343Benicassim, a lot warmer, and in tents rather than the comfort of a hostel, meant this felt more like the kind of festival I was used to. The hard dusty ground made me very grateful for Busabouts air mattresses, if only there was a way to install A/C in a tent. The festival was a full 4 days and I had arrived a couple days early to set up and prepare, so I knew the area reasonably well. The old town provided us with excellent tapas restaurants, while a waterpark and the beach nearby meant there was plenty to do during the day. The arena was about twice the size of BBK, but it was nice to see some of the same food trucks there, Spain certainly does good festival food, with a range of options, including asian, mexican and argentinian cuisine, there was even an Aussie place, for all those odd things that Australians never actually eat.

img_20160716_124643118_hdrThe layout of stages meant there was no noise pollution and it was never more than a few minutes to where you needed to be. Some big names performed, the biggest was of course Muse on the Saturday night. For them the crowd was huge, with the arena completely sold out, and plenty people around the outskirts, outside the fence listening in as well. There were plenty more though, Kendrick Lamar, Biffy Clyro, Massive Attack to name a few. It was some of the smaller acts that really impressed me though, the surf/punk/rock FIDLAR really appealed to me giving me the kick I love about music, Rat Boy from the UK were highly entertaining, with a very drunk frontman rap/rambling his way through lively indie rock tunes, but it was Reykjavikurdaetur who put on the most memorable set.img_20160717_201025974With completely incomprehensible songs (my Icelandic is lacking), supposedly about heartbreak, love and feminist freedom the 15 member strong, all female rap troupe ruled the stage with quirky hip-hop tunes and a healthy sprinkling of nudity.

Both festivals were amazing experiences, similar, but different as I said before. If you’re a fan of music and want to experience something truly cultural, you wouldn’t be far wrong from heading to these festivals, especially when Busabout makes it so easy for you.

img_20160718_030942416

Where am I?

So a little personal update for you all.

I’m currently in London visiting friends and exploring a little more, I will soon be heading up North to Leeds for a week with Pre-Fit, then down to Bath/Bristol to see friends, then another week of fittings. After that, I’ll visit Cardif and Bristol again before I fly off to Tignes in the French Alps with Wasteland. I should be out there for at least three weeks hopefully four, before returning back to the UK.

I’m hoping to relocate more permanently to London, finding somewhere of my own to live and finding some kind of job to keep me in the black. I’m planning to save as much as I can, in order to travel some more soon, so first off I’ll be looking for bar work. But looking a little more long term it’ll be work within the Tourism industry, hopefully for cool independent company, but anywhere with a good attitude towards youth and adventure tourism will work well.

Eventually, I would like to start my own company ideally in South Africa, doing a similar thing to the company I worked for in Australia and New Zealand, however, until I save a lot of money, or find a very generous investor, that’ll be on the back-burner.

For now though, just happy to be able to keep travelling, and get some more snow time in

Benjamin Duff

@Versestravel

Traveling Blues

We all get it, not just that Wanderlust, but that lost and lonely feeling when you’re not traveling, or doing something.

I’m there right now, slowly working a minimum wage bar job, and living with my Dad. Not the most glamorous my life has ever been and frankly and little depressing. I gives me a chance to do all that stuff that people talk about that isn’t travel, you know, movies, tv, video games etc. It’s interesting to think that my definition of having a home is having video games, it’s what I like best for my downtime. But it needs to be an occasional treat, not a staple of my daily routine. Video games allow me to completely escape, and is perhaps why I loved that crappy hostel in Melbourne so much (don’t be fooled by the website!)

But without a job that engages me, and without any awesome activities to be doing on a weekly basis, and without enough money to go on real adventures, I’m stuck in a slump.

So what can we do to escape this? Well working on this website helps a bit, and I’ve heard planning your next trip is good therapy, but I feel I found a better solution. Try to find work that allows/makes you travel. I’ve started at looking for work with tourism again, in hostels that will let me live there. This means I can go explore another city and wait with fingers crossed that I got the job with Wasteland that will mean I will off in France for the winter.

Hostel life is part of what I love about traveling, so why not combine it with earning in the downtime I have between international trips.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Wasteland Ski Training Weekend – Okehampton Camp, Dartmoor

This weekend I spent sleeping in an army barracks on Dartmoor waking up at 6.45am.

Dartmoor Morning

DartmoorDoesn’t sound so great, but it was all part of the test for the Wasteland Ski training and selection weekend, an intense weekend of classes, talks and parties testing our ability to work hard and play hard! The location was very strange, a military base on the edge of Dartmoor, with epic views down across the Devon countryside. A little exploring led to some impressive views of what could appropriately be described as a wasteland. We shared the camp with cadets, marines and hikers, so meal times were an interesting mix.

CluesMost importantly the classes threw groups of strangers all with one thing in common (snow!) together to learn and work to solve problems. Coming away with the knowledge of how best to take care of our clients from bus pickup, to resort, to slopes, to bars, to bed, and back home again. How to deal with problems, the best way to deal with common questions and your general attitude towards the work. There was lots to learn, but it was well taught, most of us seemed to get it pretty well.

SwordBoth nights there the bar was open and the drinks flowed. Partying is as much a part of the job as everything else, and the fancy dress competition was hotly contested. With the theme as ‘W’ there were lots of Where’s Wallys, a few wizards, a web, a couple Wall-Es and Washing machines and 4 William Wallaces (my choice) A great night out with the Wasteland crew and the 150 potential reps.

I can only hope that I impressed the staff enough to get a ticket out to the Alps this year. Either way, a good weekend was had – fingers crossed!

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Comin’ Home

Headlands

I am now back in Cornwall, living with my Dad. Not the most glamorous travel location, and certainly not brilliant as the basis for a Travel Blogging perspective. But, Cornwall is a place of incredible natural beauty, some wonderful historic buildings, and some cultural treats.

St AgnesIts distance from the rest of the country leaves it somewhat ignored by the foreign tourists, leaving it for the British summer holiday makers. The county is full of ‘Emmits’ during the summer months, but either side of the school holidays the weather is good and the roads are clear. With a reasonable public transport system it is possible to get around without a car, but having one opens the county up to endless exploration.

With two long coast lines there’s loads of beaches and cliffs to explore, with excellent paths around the whole county (cliff walking is a popular activity of the non-family visitor). There’s BnBs a plenty for those wanting a comfortable night as well. For the younger audience Newquay has plenty of surf hostels designed to get you partying all night with atlantic to wash away the hang over.

PolzeathFor backpackers with a passion for the rural, walking and hill climbing the South West has some wonderful options, and Cornwall (in my opinion) is the best choice, the furthest but also the prettiest of the region.

I will attempt to explore this county over the next few weeks, and I’ll be posting the highlights – I’m sure it won’t have the crazy adrenalin of NZ, or the just plain crazy of South East Asia, but I’ll find some good reasons to visit.

Benjamin Duff

WYSTC 2014

Convention Centre Dublin

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the World Youth and Student Travel Conference in Dublin, but I was very happy that I was allowed to volunteer.

The Keynote SpeechWhile the organisation of the volunteers wasn’t great, and the team of (mostly) apathetic travel and tourism students weren’t the most enthusiastic we covered the tasks we needed to do well enough, and those that really wanted to achieve something were given plenty of opportunities. I include myself in that group.

I used my spare time to network, and re-connect with sales reps, and company heads of companies I’d worked with through Peterpans while in Australia and New Zealand. Making contact with the heads of Stray travel, Mojo surf and Skydive Wanaka again was good fun. I also met a few people from South Africa who gave me some excellent advice about what to do in order to get into the country, and how to build a business effectively.

Livin' The DreamThe Travel Massive event allowed me to meet several other bloggers, hopefully increasing my following a little, but also to get advice on the best ways to proceed as an independent travel writer and consultant. I also spent some time talking with some of the organisers of WYSTC who were interested in my previous experience, and spoke of potential positions opening up within the company in the future.

Youth Trends with MtvI was invited to the Global Youth Travel Awards in the last day, but unfortunately could not attend. I was privileged and grateful to be asked, and wish I could have gone, without having to cancel my previous plans.

The conference has left me in a difficult position: I want to proceed with the training weekend (and hopefully the job) with Wasteland Ski, so I can spend the winter in the Alpes, but I also want to capitalise on the contacts I have made, with potential leads in South Africa, Australia, The Netherlands and a couple more, it’s hard to know what to do. I am thankful to have these options though, before this conference I only had the one choice!

Benjamin Duff

Sir Ranulph Fiennes