Italia '23 part due: Genoa

[Previously: June 14-18]

Sunday June 18 (continued)

Good news! The one bit of rain we encounter during the entire fortnight of our honeymoon coincides precisely with the one-hour-40 train journey between Turin and Genoa. Bad news! We’re alerted to this when that rain starts pouring through the roof of what was supposed to be a first class carriage. I know we were travelling on some sort of cheap ticket, but it still seems a bit much.

It’s a twenty-odd minute walk from the station to our hotel – curiously, each one of the four main hotels we’re staying in during this trip requires a twenty-odd minute walk from when we arrive in town – and it gives you time to start thinking about first impressions. Turin, as I’ve already said, felt like a generic Italian city: but within a few minutes of walking the streets of Genoa, I quickly realise there’s a definite character coming through. It’s more aggressively touristy than Turin, but wears that on its sleeve. Turin probably thinks it's too classy to have something like the Bigo panoramic lift, a viewing platform that rises forty metres into the air, spins you round twice and then comes back down again. Genoa has no such scruples, hence the video above.

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BrewDogging #77: Reykjavik (or C.I. part 1)

Still Life With Board Games. (You'll have to translate the neon for yourselves, I'm afraid.)Sunday 5th June 2022

The last trip we made to a BrewDog bar outside the UK was Hamburg, which was two and a half years ago. The last trip we made to a BrewDog bar outside the UK by plane was Seoul, which was over three years ago. It's quite possible that after all this Covid nonsense, we've forgotten how to travel.

It's certainly the case that we've forgotten how to book Heathrow Express tickets three months in advance to knock them down to an acceptable price - we didn't realise that until it was too late to do anything about it. Still, it means that we start this adventure with our first ever go on the new Elizabeth line, which is currently just a rebranding of the pre-existing slow trains between Paddington and Heathrow (but will eventually connect fully with central London and the East End badlands). The trains look nice, though they're really just Overground carriages coloured in purple.

We get to the airport long before our flight's due, because you've heard the stories - aviation is broken now, and Heathrow is in a permanent state of chaos. But once we've got there, we whizz through check-in and security at a satisfyingly high speed. Our bags aren't so lucky: the baggage conveyors break down literally as we're checking in, and appear to be down across the entire airport. "Just leave the bags on the floor there, they'll get on the plane," we're told. It's a less than reassuring start, both to our journey to Reykjavik, and to a travel article that mysteriously has the words 'part 1' in its title.

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A Very Hamburg Christmas

"Not getting many hops off this." Xmas Eve 2019, and the view from the loft conversion at BrewDog St Pauli, or 'Clouds' as everyone insists on calling it. Photo by The BBG.A Tale Of The Before Times (#1 of 5)

I posted the following on February 23rd, at the end of a post about BrewDog Hamburg and our Christmas 2019 holiday: "...would seem like the perfect lead-in to a discussion of... non-BrewDog things in Hamburg generally. But let's pause for now, and we can talk about that sort of thing another time. You know how it works around here, it'll probably be Easter by the time I get around to posting that."

Well, that didn't entirely go to plan, did it?

Let's just forget for now that the world has gone to shit in the last three months, and instead recall a time when you could travel to a foreign country and mingle with people you didn't know. Here, as promised, is a discussion of non-BrewDog things that you could do in Hamburg as recently as last December (though probably not now).

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Rising Monkey 2019: Sayonara Heisei

Ah, bilingual puns, my only weakness.April 19th - 26th, 2019

It's the end of an era. Literally. At the age of 85, Japanese emperor Akihito has made the unusual decision to retire and have some fun during the last years of his life, rather than work himself into a not-so-early grave. The Japanese measure their calendar by imperial reigns, so we know in advance that Akihito's era, known as Heisei, will come to an end on April 30th. As seasoned Japanophiles, you'd imagine The Belated Birthday Girl and I would want to be there for the changeover.

Unfortunately, planes and hotel prices for that week have inevitably skyrocketed, so we're going the week before instead. Sorry about that. We have other plans for the changeover week, though, and you'll get to hear about those. Eventually.

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Monoglot Movie Club: Gogol. Bored? Hello!

Just try looking at that statue without making a loud 'whoosh' noise with your mouth. I dare you.Now, you see, at the start of this year it didn't seem like such a big deal. "Fancy working for a week in Moscow?" they asked me in January. "It won't be for a couple of months yet, we'll need to sort out visas and everything." It'd be my first time visiting Russia, so how could I possibly turn down that opportunity?

It took nearly three months to complete all the paperwork, by which time we'd had that whole awkward business where the Russians allegedly tried to whack a couple of their own people in the Salisbury branch of Zizzi. Diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia were at a post-Cold War low. Arsenal had just beaten CSKA Moscow 4-1 in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final. And I was going to be in Moscow the same week that the city was hosting the second leg.

Spoiler alert: I got out alive. Arsenal, meanwhile, won 6-3 on aggregate, only to bottle it in the semis.

So, while we're on the subject of football... If any of you are going to be in Russia for the World Cup over the next month - hey, look, an actual excuse for publishing this two months after the fact - here are some travel tips for you, along with two of my inevitable reviews of unsubtitled local films I didn't have a hope in hell of understanding.

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Monoglot Movie Club: I Was Misinformed

You can't see it here, but just off the right edge of the photo is a woman staring at the guy with a look of disgust. And she's carrying a placard reading 'TRADITIONAL ISLAMIC ATTITUDES TO PROMISCUITY'.Renault: And what in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

There's a certain inevitability to this. Last month, you'll remember, I editorially steered the good ship MostlyFilm into its final port of call. As part of its climactic week-and-a-bit of wonders, I contributed the last episode in the long-running feature Monoglot Movie Club, while suggesting that it could possibly return in some form or other on this site.

In the six weeks that followed the publication of that article, I would end up visiting seven different countries (okay, one of them was Scotland, but still). Three of them would be countries I'd never been to before, and I would see a film at the cinema in all three. So, yeah, Monoglot Movie Club is definitely returning here, to the extent that it's now got its own category in the right-hand sidebar. (The category includes earlier travel posts that contain movie reviews, as well as the Red Button Bonus Material pieces for the MostlyFilm series.)

First stop on this mini-world tour: as they used to say, We're Off On The Road To Morocco.

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Shouting Larga Larga Larga LargaWell, that's that. As MostlyFilm continues to ride slowly into the sunset, we've just published what will be my final solo contribution to the site (though I'll pop up in two more collaborative pieces before the week's out). Monoglot Movie Club: Epitaph 1, contrary to what you may have read at the start of my Polish Netflix article, is a real finale to seven years of the feature. It's my one and only chance to run with an idea that I've been toying with since 2013 or thereabouts: take a few films that I've reviewed without subtitles for MMC, watch them again with subtitles, and see if it changes my opinion of them. I've picked seven films from more or less the entire run of the feature - for four of them I've been able to draw on second reviews written for these pages, while the other three have been rewatched specially for this piece. You'll have to read Epitaph 1 to see how all that turned out.

The final episode of MMC is, as ever, accompanied by Red Button Bonus Material on this site. I've always enjoyed the challenge of coming up with some sort of cross-promotional piece that'll back up the main article, whether it's just a simple collection of video trailers or a more detailed bit of text background. This one, however, is a little out of the ordinary.

At the top of the MostlyFilm piece is a map showing the 28 cities where I watched films for the series. What if I told you that really, it should have been 29 cities? And that there was a lost MMC film review that never made it to publication? And that you're going to get to see that previously unpublished review right now? Would that impress you? Would it?

Oh. Well, here it is anyway.

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MOSTLYFILM: Netflix i Chłód

Karol Kopiec. It's explained in the article, honestly.The whole internet loves MostlyFilm, a lovely website that loves everything apart from late period Steven Moffat!

*7 years later*

We regret to inform you the website is dead

It was a good run, let's be honest. When a bunch of refugees from Film Unlimited (including myself) first floated the idea of running our own movie blog back in 2011, we had no idea how long we could sustain it. It's amazing looking back at those first posts and realising that between us, we were churning out five new pieces of content every week. It took quite a long time, but gradually that enthusiasm wore off: the frequency dropped off to three posts a week, and then irregularly, while the editor's task of coordinating all the people involved became less and less fun.

For the last couple of months, the site has been kinda just been sitting there while we've been batting around a few ideas for a reboot, and eventually coming to the conclusion that we're more or less spent. A lesser website would have just pulled down the shutters at that point and walked away. We, however, are not a lesser website. We are Europe's Best Website. And so, over the next three weeks (taking us into the start of 2018), MostlyFilm will see one final burst of activity - a series of posts looking back on the last seven years, wrapping up a number of our ongoing series, and continuing to do things that you wouldn't expect from a site that's mostly about film.

And on the topic of doing things that you wouldn't expect, this lap of honour starts with a piece of mine called Netflix i Chłód, in which I review the half a dozen Polish stand-up comedy specials available on Netflix. The prospect of providing Red Button Bonus Content for that is a little daunting, but I'll see what I can do.

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MOSTLYFILM: The Secret Life Of Arabia

Kingdom Centre in Riyadh. Ironically, given its shape, there isn't a single bottle worth opening in the entire city. I imagine most of you have made some sort of wallchart to accompany the BrewDogging posts on here. You've listed all of the BrewDog bars currently open across the planet - maybe you've even plotted them out on a big map - and you've been marking them off one by one as we've been visiting them. You're probably eagerly anticipating the day when we can say we've had a drink in every single one.

Well, spoiler alert: that's probably not going to happen. The primary reason for that is the BrewDog bar in São Paulo. Yes, I was in the city back in 2012, two years before the bar opened, but that was for work. Even Brazilians will admit that São Paulo has nothing to offer the casual tourist, which is what we'd be if we were visiting it for BrewDogging purposes. We'd have to expend a lot of effort and money just so we could have a cheeky drink or two.

Saudi Arabia's the same, but without the cheeky drink or two. Riyadh is purely a business city, and there's no reason you'd go there as a tourist: there's no actual method of doing it either, given that they don't offer tourist visas anyway. So when I went there back in May this year - primarily for work, but also to research an amusingly futile Monoglot Movie Club piece for Mostly Film called The Secret Life Of Arabia - I did wonder if writing up my usual set of travel tips would work as backup material. It's quite possible they would be of no use to absolutely anyone else reading this.

Mind you, that's never stopped me before, so here goes.

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MOSTLYFILM: Tales Of Asian Vengeance

Many tales will be told of the month I've just had. Eventually, at least. You know what it's like around here.

In brief: those of you with a reasonable capacity for logical deduction may have worked out that I was on holiday in Hong Kong with The Belated Birthday Girl at the start of May 2017. You know my views on HK, if you're a regular reader: it's The Funnest Place On EarthTM, and that continued to be my opinion throughout the week we were there. Just one week, though: and at the end of that, we got on a plane and spent the following week in Japan, where even more fun stuff happened.

So, a very enjoyable holiday in two of our favourite countries, which concluded when we landed back at Heathrow on the morning of Sunday May 14th. A mere eight hours later - following a dash home to drop off the suitcase and pick up a second, pre-packed one - I was on another plane out of Heathrow, for a week of working in Dubai. I came back early on the following Friday morning, hung around for about 24 hours, and then flew off again to spend my first ever week in Saudi Arabia, again for work purposes.

To summarise: I've spent each of the four weeks of May 2017 in a different time zone. Currently I'm back in London, but don't ask me what time it is right now, because I have absolutely no idea.

All of this travelling is going to be documented in a collection of posts that'll be turning up here over the next couple of months: as with last year's big holiday, I'm going to tease you initially with a video featuring disturbing amounts of fire which will get explained eventually. But for now, the first major piece about my travels is the latest Monoglot Movie Club episode for MostlyFilm. Tales Of Asian Vengeance reviews the two movies we saw on our holiday - one from Hong Kong, one from Japan. If you want to see the trailers for the two films, they're linked to in the article itself: if you want to watch some more related video clips, they're in the Red Button Bonus Content section below.

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