The Quiet Traveller: Day 16 – Franz Josef

After a night of multiple beverages (beveragi?), I wasn’t feeling the greatest, but my plans consisted of nothing anyway, so that was ok. Today my plan was to shower, eat, do washing and just chill. And have a decent cup of tea, if that was at all possible. Coffee made outside the house tastes good. But tea rarely does. Tea must be made inside the walls of this Englishman’s castle.

Part of my plan was also to find some wifi, as the hostel wifi was as weak as my knees after hearing a biscuit packet rustle. I decided the best bet was a cafe named The Aviator, as it charmingly advertised free wifi on an outside A-frame. I sat down, having ordered a coffee and what I think was a lasagne, and logged onto the interwebs. It had been a while since I had used the internet, having been busy surfing and being in remote areas. I chatted with friends, which given the location I was currently in, was such a cool feeling. Here I was at the foot of a glacier on an island on the other side of the world, talking to people from home. That’s globalisation for you.

Having wolfed down my food, I slowly slurped my coffee as I still wanted to use the internet, mostly to check up on the Premier League. Honestly, the one time in my life I go to the other side of the world for two months, Leicester decide to cause a ruckus and I’m not around to watch it unfold. This was a disappointment indeed. Such is the life of a Spurs fan.

The cafe was slowly filling up, which meant a chance to kick back and people watch. Americans are always good fun to watch. I witnessed a portly man complain that there was not enough hollandaise sauce on his food. It wasn’t the taste, the temperature, or the presentation. It was the quantity. Classic.

However, I perhaps was just a little jealous, as I saw another group of wealthy Americans sign up for pretty much every glacier tour. Maybe I could use my British accent to get adopted by them. Does that work? Hello Mr and Mrs American, I’m British. Will you fund my adventures in exchange for me saying words that sound funny to you?

Aside from Americans, there was a herd of old people bumbling about. There needs to be an appropriate word for a large group of old people. For such a common occurrence, especially on the South Coast of England, it’s surprising there is not one. The offenders had stickers with their names on and the name of their tour operator, which I quite frankly, found hilarious. We start our lives as babies in the hospital with name tags, and end them as┬ánamed-tagged troops of the blue-rinse brigade.

Before the staff of the Aviator cottoned on to my raccoon-like use of their wifi, I trotted off to see if I could find any parts of Franz Josef that I hadn’t already explored. Heading towards the edge of town, full of lasagne, I soon found myself needing to publish a lengthy title. Luckily, Franz Josef has public toilets, so no issues there.

However, these toilets were unlike any I had ever encountered in my life. I walked in and discovered you had to press a button to close the door, which would then automatically lock. I did so and a disembodied voice echoed ‘door locked’. Weird.

As I made myself comfortable, music started playing. The kind you usually find in an elevator. If I’m honest, this was most off-putting. But what was put me off the most in this bizarre contraption was the writing on the door-locking device. ‘This door will open after 10 minutes’ it said. So it hit me that I had 10 minutes in get the job done, or else the door would open directly onto the main street in Franz Josef. What kind of 1984 toilet was this?

img_2315
The Big Brother toilet cubicle.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as I’ve mentioned previously, toilets can be a handy restorative niche if you need a few minutes away from people. But this was just ridiculous.

To be fair though, this toilet was probably the most interesting thing about Franz Josef after the glacier itself. Sure, the scenery was good, but it was obscured by thick clouds (see awful featured image) for both days – which was both annoying visually and for those trying to get up the glacier by helicopter, as recent accidents have tightened the flying conditions that can be flown in. It will be interesting to see what happens to the town after the glacier one day disappears. Thanks to global warming, it is vanishing at a rate of knots, and that rate of knots will only increase thanks to Donny Johnny Trumpington.

 

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