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Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Statistics Blog


Hello again everyone!!!!

So it’s been 17 days since the end of the trip…and yet it feels like much longer. I swear like a month has passed.

I have to say it hasn’t been hard to adapt to doing NOTHING. Well I haven’t actually been doing nothing but compared to the kind of stuff we did every day on the trip it feels like it. And the blog… you’d think after writing the crazy amounts I did every day it would feel strange going back to not writing anything. But it doesn’t.

So you may recall from the last blog post that I planned to write a couple more posts containing FUN STUFF about the trip as a whole. So please do not be discouraged by the title of this blog, which in all fairness makes this post sound boring as shit… these are not your average statistics (oh fuck, pun on the word average…).

For example, do you know how many times I called Sam a fatty throughout the whole blog?!?! No? Well now you can find out!!

I came up with the idea for this blog a while ago, probably around the beginning of the trip. I realised that it could actually be quite interesting AND entertaining to know the extent of the silliness that occurred… something that will help me and you to look back on the trip as a whole and realise exactly how fucked up everything was.

Also, if any of you readers are thinking about going on a similar trip of your own, some of these facts (I say some because a lot of them are just complete bullshit) might help you to understand the scale of things on a trip like this.

Oh shit, I’ve just remembered that in order to actually write this post, I’m going to have to go through EVERY SINGLE FUCKING BLOG POST that I wrote in detail. Well this is going to take a while then.

Statistics for the whole trip

Duration of the trip:

So our journey started all the way back on 24th May at 12pm, when we left Canterbury, headed up to Gatwick and got our flight to Madrid. This feels like a fucking decade ago.

And after all of our exploits, we returned home at 10.15pm on 25th June via train and ferry after a mammoth journey all the way from Salzburg, Austria. Look at some of the statistics later in the blog to see just how…mammoth-like?!...that journey was.

So what does this mean in terms of time measurements? Take a look:

1.08 months (counting a month as 30 days)

4.63 weeks

32.4 days

778.25 hours

46695 minutes

1120680 seconds

It’s funny how the apparent length of the trip increases and decreases depending on which unit you look at. So I thought I’d include plenty for your entertainment.

Distance travelled throughout the trip:

If you kept up with the blog throughout our time away, you will know that we went to many different places in many countries. As we travelled by train using our InterRail passes, we were able to travel a very long way in those 32.4 days.

Roughly 5000 miles in fact.

These distance calculations cannot be exact, because it is impossible to take into account every turn that a train makes, for example, and the exact distances of train journeys in Europe aren’t available online. I therefore had to use WalkJogRun (www.walkjogrun.net) to calculate many of the distances. On this website you can mark out a route on top of a Google Maps layer to work out the distance of the marked route. It is intended for people that do jogging and stuff like that within their local area, but I found that it works pretty well for long distances too. However, if I want to keep my relative sanity which I do, I cannot feasibly mark out these train routes EXACTLY. It takes too long and it gets confusing. So that’s why the figures you see will not be exact. For those 5000 miles, I’d probably say that it could be between 4900 and 5500 in reality. It is more likely to be over 5000 because it is easy to miss out little turns. But anyway… just keep in mind that these numbers are a little bit rough.

It gets a bit funny, though, when you look at the calorie counter on the WalkJogRun website. Obviously this counter makes sense for jogging distances, but when you are covering hundreds of miles the figures get a little bit fucked up. For example, you would apparently burn 22,039 calories if you walked from Milan to Venice…. LOL.

Also, you can save the routes you mark out on the website so that other people can try out your jogging route. Maybe I should save some of the routes from the trip on the website… maybe some of the other users will try out my 200-mile jogging routes!

Here is the breakdown of the distances travelled throughout the trip:

Travelling from Canterbury to Gatwick: 88 miles

Flight from Gatwick to Madrid: 756 miles

Total distance travelled in Spain: 1530 miles

Total distance travelled in Italy: 992 miles

Total distance travelled in Switzerland: 665 miles

Total distance travelled in Austria: 319 miles

During the trip, as we were travelling between the places we wanted to visit, we also passed through some other countries: France, Germany, and, after some research, I found out that we actually passed through a bit of Liechtenstein too.

Total distance travelled in France: 828 miles

Total distance travelled in Germany: 413 miles

Total distance travelled in Liechtenstein: 5 miles… LOL.

And lastly, during the journey home, which was actually the longest journey we took during the trip (820 miles in total), we crossed the English Channel (26 miles) and travelled from Dover back to home (13 miles).

And there you have it. Our trip in miles. Although this doesn’t include the distances we travelled on public transport/walking within our individual places that we visited, which in the end must have been massive. Probably over 100 miles.

I’ll leave you with this distance statistic. Taking 5000 miles as the total distance travelled throughout the trip, we covered the equivalent of one fifth of the earth’s circumference (24,900 miles). 20%. FUCKING INCREDIBLE.

Countries passed through

So in total, we passed through 8 countries during the trip. Our four countries that we properly visited were Spain (24th May – 7th June, 14 days), Italy (8th June – 16th June, 8 days), Switzerland (16th June – 21st June, 5 days) and Austria (21st June – 25th June, 4 days). The countries that we passed through in order to get between these countries were France, Germany and Liechtenstein. And we also travelled through the UK a bit too J

Train journeys

Considering that we spent shit loads on our two InterRail passes before our trip began, trains were always going to be a prominent feature of our holiday. They were the main reason that we managed to travel 5000 miles, and without them we would not have been able to visit all of the places that we did. But as well as being a relatively efficient and cheap mode of transport, the great thing about trains is that they allow you to see so much of the areas that you pass through.

So we are very grateful that trains exist.

The upcoming statistics took a lot of work to calculate (so appreciate it, bitches!) but it was totally worth it because they are some the best ones in terms of putting the trip in perspective. For anyone thinking about doing an InterRail trip in the future, LOOK AT THIS.


Total number of individual train journeys (including metro): 94

Individual metro journeys: 57

Average train journeys per day: 2.9… so basically 3.


That might be quite hard for you to imagine. It still seems incredible to me. It definitely shows how important trains were for our trip!

This is where shit really does get real though. If those last statistics shocked you, be prepared for further amazement.

 
Total money saved on train travel using InterRail: £1090.30

 
Ok. What the fuck.

This proves beyond doubt that YOU MUST USE FUCKING INTERRAIL IF YOU WANT TO DO A TRIP BY RAIL IN EUROPE. It is so fucking worth it.

Without InterRail, the total cost of our train tickets would have been £2236. In Spain, Italy and France, we had to make reservations for our journeys, which came to £301.70 in total. The cost of our two InterRail tickets was £844, so adding this onto the cost of our reservations, our train travel cost us a total of £1145.70 instead of £2236, meaning that we saved the amount of money mentioned above.

When you think about how much it would have cost us to use different modes of transport to go where we went (by plane, by car, by coach), it is certain that for the amount of money you pay and the efficiency of your travelling, using InterRail is by far the best option if you want to explore Europe like we did.

I am so so glad we did this. And if you’re thinking about something similar…DO IT. The evidence is clear.

Accommodation

As we wanted to spend as little money as possible because we are poor, we decided to stay in hostels as much as possible during the trip. Using the HostelWorld website (www.hostelworld.com) we were able to book our hostels in advance before we arrived in a place – you pay a small reservation fee (10% of the price of your stay) and then you pay the rest of the price when you arrive.

From our experience, this was definitely a good way to do this. The HostelWorld website is brilliant – it gives you all the information that you need about the hostels and it is very easy to book them. Also, in terms of staying in hostels in general, the quality of the accommodation was generally brilliant for the cost. A lot of the hostels we stayed in were more or less the same as hotels in terms of quality, and they also tend to be more in tune with the local area in terms of culture and tradition.

In total, we stayed in 18 different places of accommodation. I say ‘places of accommodation’ instead of hostels because the place we stayed in Geneva was a four-star hotel…definitely NOT a hostel.

I was planning on telling you the cheapest and most expensive prices we paid for accommodation during the trip, however obviously the prices vary over time and shit changes and it becomes difficult. I know for a fact, though, that the most expensive place we stayed in was the four-star hotel in Geneva… and it’s lucky that we only stayed there for one night because I think it cost in the region of £50 for the night! As for the cheapest price we paid, I think that was about £8 or something, but I can’t remember where. On average, we probably paid about £17 a night. Sorry about the lack of precision, but that gives you a rough idea of the prices we paid.

One of the most useful features of the HostelWorld website is the percentage rating which shows what HostelWorld users who have stayed at the hostels thought of them. The overall percentage rating is calculated by averaging the percentages given by guests concerning six different attributes: character, security, location, staff, atmosphere and cleanliness.

The average overall percentage on HostelWorld for the hostels we stayed in during the trip was 74%.

This shows that the hostels we stayed in were pretty much average in terms of all of the hostels on HostelWorld. From my experience of browsing through many many hostels on the website, I’d say that 74% is a pretty standard score. If I saw a hostel with that score on the website, I wouldn’t really have any concerns with staying there. Below 70% is slightly concerning, and below 60%...well it doesn’t really bear thinking about. If the rating is 80% or above…well then life is just fucking amazing.

Photos

As you probably gathered if you kept up with the blog, we took SHIT LOADS of photos between us.

This isn’t to say that we took so many that we didn’t truly experience the things we took photos of. In fact, we were so keen not to do this that Sam gave me a not-so-subtle reminder that this could happen EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME I took a photo. It was so fucking annoying.

“Jack, just experience it.”

“Jack, you’re going to ruin your experience.”

“Jack, you don’t need to take a photo of that.”

“Jack, you’re the human version of Google Streetview.”

OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO KILL MYSELF.

But anyway, in the end I think we got the balance just right. I’ve looked back through all the photos a few times now and I love how the memories just come flooding back. And they’re not memories of taking photos of the things…they are memories of the things themselves and our experiences around these things.

So I have no regrets.

But how many photos did we take in total throughout the trip?

Answer: 6217.

Yep, it’s another ‘holy shit’ moment.

That’s an average of 194 photos per day.

Here’s a small breakdown:

Jack’s total number of photos: 3539

Sam’s total number of photos: 2004

Photos taken on Sam’s iPhone: 674 (Although these were taken on Sam’s phone, we both took photos using it, so I’ve put these in a separate category).

It’s lucky that my digital camera has a rechargeable battery that lasts for like a million years. Sam’s needs four AA batteries which was a bit of an issue at times during the trip, but if you read the blog post “Preparations” from way back in May, you’ll see why not having enough batteries wasn’t really a problem…

Food

Food is important. You need it to live. At times during the trip it felt like we did not truly appreciate this.

Whether this was because we starved ourselves due to a lack of money or because we had a growing tendency at some points to eat fast food (just for the way it made our lives simpler), our food situation was always…interesting.

This is reflected in the following statistics.

Number of meals out: 16

Clearly, there were many many many occasions when we simply bought small things to eat during the holiday, but there were significantly fewer occasions when we actually had something which could be considered a ‘meal’. So I decided to include this statistic about meals because it reveals more about how much of our budget we were willing to contribute towards eating well.

16 meals over the whole of the time of the trip is the equivalent of having 1 meal every 2 days. I think this is pretty good. It shows that we didn’t go overboard in terms of buying food, but we did allow ourselves to eat reasonably well at the same time.

This number probably would have been greater, though, if it weren’t for our money woes, which properly started in Italy I suppose. 9 out of these 16 meals were in Spain – yes, we spent longer there than anywhere else, but the prices of food and the amount of money we had were definitely a part of this too. In Italy, we really started cutting down on our spending, and as meals out weren’t essential, they were one of the things that we had to cut down on. And once we got to Switzerland…well the prices were so ridiculous that we almost stopped buying food altogether. No joke.

We did manage to have some local delicacies in every country we visited though. In Spain we tried tapas and plenty of other stuff, in Italy we had bruschetta and Sam had a pizza, in Switzerland we had Swiss chocolate (not a meal I know but it was fucking AMAZING) and in Austria we had schnitzel, so it’s not like our lack of meals stopped us from trying new things.

Number of fast food meals: 6

So 6 out of the 16 meals we had were fast food meals.

Shit, that seems quite bad when you put it like that.

It is the equivalent of a bit more than 1 fast food meal for every week of the trip.

There, that sounds better.

Considering we were looking to do things cheaply during this holiday too, I think that’s actually pretty good. Ok, the stuff we ate wasn’t great nutritionally…but in terms of actually getting the nutrients that we needed (taking into account that we were practically starving ourselves at some points) fast food did the job and saved us some money.

4 of our fast food meals were in McDonald’s (fuck my life), 1 was in KFC and 1 was in some random French burger place (well that more or less counts as local food seeing as it wasn’t an international company…so no regrets there! J).

Number of pastries/cakes eaten between us: 42

As you will know if you kept up with the blog throughout the trip, Sam and I did like to treat ourselves to a cake or two. Or three. Or four.

This only equates to 1.3 cakes per day though, and this is between us, so it wasn’t too bad. And most of the time it was Sam. Haha.

Here is a selection of cakes that we encountered:





Number of times Sam had churros: 5

When I said in the introduction that some of these statistics are complete bullshit, this is pretty much what I meant. It does have relevance though. Reading through the blog posts from Spain, you will hear quite frequent complaints from me about Sam buying churros, which if you don’t know are thin, doughnut-like pastries which are full of fat. Hence why Sam loves them.

Witness the evidence…

 

5 times doesn’t seem like many, but bear in mind that most of the time when you order churros, they give you 4 or 5 of them. And one of these times, we had a massive pot of melted chocolate with them too.

When Sam ordered them, I could normally only manage one or maybe two. They sat on my stomach. How he could eat so many I do not know.

I’m still not convinced that 5 times is correct. I think Sam got some without me knowing. Hmmm….

Sleep

‘Lack of Sleep’ probably would have been a more appropriate title to this section.

Reading through the blog posts, you can really see how much I moaned about not getting enough sleep. I even devoted the title of one of the posts to my sleeping problems (see ‘I NEEEED SLEEEEEEEEEEEEP’ from June).

So this little section is going to pretty much be based just around me seeing as Sam, a.k.a. the luckiest bastard in the world, got ridiculous amounts of sleep throughout the trip. I wrote the blog every night, which meant that almost every time I went to bed in the very early hours, and also my annoying body doesn’t allow me to sleep on public transport, for whatever reason. So tiredness was clearly quite an issue for me.

“What was the average number of hours’ sleep you got per night?” I hear you ask.

Answer: 5 hours.

This is pretty bad. For some of you reading you might think that this isn’t far off the amount of sleep that you get. But when you’re walking around and are constantly on your feet for hours on end the next day, travelling for miles and miles and having occasional panic attacks, you really feel the lack of sleep. Exploring places is exhausting.

I think you’re meant to have like 7.5 hours sleep per night as a healthy amount? So that kind of went out the window then.

Not only that, but 3 nights I did not sleep at all. If there was any kind of sleep, it would have lasted about 5 minutes and would have just been drowsiness that would not have rid me of tiredness whatsoever.

These nights were the night when we got the sleeper train from Granada to Barcelona (LOL sleeper train…more like the fucking Insomnia Express), the night when we had to stay outside a train station overnight in Lyon, France, while travelling between Spain and Italy (that time we had to stay awake to avoid getting stabbed) and lastly the final night of the trip, where we had to get a train from Salzburg at 4.30am so we could get home the same day.

I think at the end of the trip I hadn’t slept for over 40 hours, and the other two times weren’t too far off that.

Looking back though, I’m quite glad I experienced that actually. I don’t think I’d ever stayed awake for that long in my life before. I mean, I’d not been able to sleep at all before, but it’s different when you’re not actually in a bed trying to get to sleep, and you’re moving around and doing stuff. There is very little time to rest. And after quite a while you get this weird feeling in your head which is very hard to describe…it’s like a kind of pressure, like your head is being slightly squeezed. That’s what I discovered, anyway.

Heights and…stuff

Ok, so basically I have a list of statistics in front of me, and the ones I’ve put in this clumsy little section seemed to group together quite well, so that’s what I’ve attempted to do.

Reading through the blog, you will see many pictures from viewpoints over different places. Being up so high and looking over the places that you visit is a great way of appreciating them in a different way – you can see the true extent of them and where they lie in terms of the landscape.

In total, we visited 23 different viewpoints.

However, the highest point above sea level that we encountered during the trip was actually not at one of these viewpoints. This point came during our journey on the Glacier Express in Switzerland, where we reached a height of 2,033 metres on the Oberalppass. This was the view:

 

As you can see, it was more of a plateau up here, so not really a viewpoint. Also, the weather was shocking. But there was like 3ft of snow in June which is fucking ridiculous, and a sight to behold in itself.

We also climbed a few very tall buildings throughout the trip, which provided us with some great (and occasionally terrifying) experiences. The tallest one we climbed was the Campanile in Florence, Italy, which stands at 84.7 metres. Check out the view!

 

Shenanigans

These upcoming statistics are so stupid that they really can’t be put into sections with different themes. I went with ‘Shenanigans’ as a summary title, but it could just as easily have been ‘Shit’.

You will probably recognise a lot of these things as things I moaned/mused about in the blog.

Number of cathedrals/churches visited: 13

This number was lower than I expected. But then again, these are the churches where we actually went inside and looked around. If it were just the number of churches that we saw, it would be more like 13 million.

Main cathedrals/churches were nearly always prime locations to visit in the places that we went to - they’re often in the centre, and often surrounded by many of the other main tourist attractions. Also, particularly when we were in Spain and Italy, they became good places to visit around midday and the early afternoon when the sun and the heat became unbearable. That’s actually a good piece of advice for anyone planning a similar trip.

Neither me nor Sam are particularly religious (although see ‘Córdoba and the Soul’ for my philosophy on this kind of thing), but cathedrals and churches were still some of the things we enjoyed visiting the most on the trip. There is much much more to appreciate in these places than simply the religious aspects of them – for example, the architectural, artistic and historical side of things. So definitely try them out if you’re visiting somewhere new.

Number of non-existent buildings ‘visited’: 2

Well this one requires a bit of explaining.

Twice, when we were in Sevilla, Spain and Salzburg, Austria, Sam wanted to visit these buildings which we’d found on an architecture website because apparently there was something good about them architecturally.

And twice, these buildings did NOT EXIST.

It turned out that these new, incredible buildings were only in the planning stage, and any images of them were renders (computer-generated images) which were so good that they looked like real buildings.

But that’s not the point.

WE WASTED OUR PRECIOUS TIME LOOKING FOR BUILDINGS WHICH DID NOT EXIST!

I’ll never let Sam forget about these two times.

I actually thought it was more than twice, but I think that’s just because after the first time in Sevilla we joked about it so often. Every time we used that architecture website to find somewhere to visit, I’d be like “Right, are you 100% sure that it exists, Sam?!”. Or if a building took ages to find, doubts would start creeping into my mind.

So yeah, I don’t expect anyone else going on a similar trip to have this problem…but at least now you know the extent of Sam’s stupidity.

Number of times we got lost looking for hostels: 5

This statistic you can DEFINITELY learn from.

It’s one thing to book a hostel, but to stay there you need to actually FIND it too.

It isn’t hard – just make sure that you have some maps on your phone or physical maps with the hostels marked, and ensure that you know how to get to the hostel from the train station or wherever you arrive in the place (using the directions they give you on the website tends to help too).

If you do that, you’ll be doing better than me and Sam did.

The worst time we got lost was probably when we were in Granada. The route we took to the hostel took an hour and a half longer than it should have done…not to mention that it was also 32 degrees and we were carrying our massive rucksacks.

That said, the first night of the trip was pretty scary too…we couldn’t find our hostel in Madrid and it had already gone past check-in time. We got very lucky there.

So basically, learn from us two monumental idiots and you should be ok J

Number of times I got sunburnt: 2

I hate getting sunburnt. In fact, I don’t even like getting a tan – I hate feeling so exposed to the sun.

So the two times I got sunburnt (in Barcelona and Rome I think) I wasn’t very pleased.

Luckily, both times the sunburn wasn’t bad at all – it went away within a day and my skin didn’t peel at all. In general we were very sensible with putting sun cream on; I think one time I got sunburnt we just forgot, and the second time was a weather miscalculation. As far as I can remember, Sam got sunburnt once more than me when he thought that it would be a good idea to lay half-naked on a beach for an hour without any sun cream on. Silly Sam.

This is just down to skin type and your own personal preferences really. If you know that you burn easily, I would strongly recommend that you put sun cream on. Of course, no one likes putting it on, but I would say that for the amount of time that it took to put on and the brief discomfort that you feel afterwards, it was worth it to not risk getting sunburnt and damaging your skin. It just becomes part of the routine after a while and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the trip at all.

Number of times we did laundry: 6

We took enough clothes for 5 days with us on the trip, which in retrospect was probably the perfect amount in terms of how much weight the clothes added to our bags and how many times we would have to do laundry.

As the trip was 32 days long, we were only forced to re-wear clothes a couple of times, and it wasn’t that bad. For example, if we had to re-wear a shirt (LOL for a minute that said ‘re-wear a shit’, glorious typing errors) we would wear one from a day where we’d been travelling on a train for a long time rather than one where we’d been out and about. We did the best we could in terms of hygiene, and we didn’t do badly at all.

Occasionally we’d have to re-wear things like socks too just because they’re so easy to lose, but if you’re going to do a trip like this you have to prepare to do stuff like that occasionally. In terms of where we washed our clothes, in some hostels they have laundry facilities for a small charge which is perfect, and a couple of times we had to use laundrettes. All of these facilities were really easy to use and not hard to find, so don’t fret about relying on them like we did.

Number of pianos found: 9

Number of pianos played: 1

This is one of the things I moaned about most in this blog.

I like to play the piano. So when I’m on a backpacking trip around Europe and have no access to one, I get withdrawal symptoms. They include wanting to THROW BRICKS AT MY OWN FACE whenever I see a piano but am unable to play it.

This happened 8 fucking times.

And typically, the time when I finally get to play one is in the last place that we visited, Salzburg. You can see a video of me playing it in ‘The Salzburg Experience’ from the June blog posts.

There is no real advice I can give to avoid this problem, because I had some catastrophic bad luck. All I can say is: fellow pianists…I feel your pain.


Statistics from the blog

There is an awful lot to be said about the blog – it was undeniably one of the most important aspects of the trip. It allowed me to communicate and share our experiences with everyone, it allowed me to have the actual experience of writing a blog which is something I really enjoyed and will never forget, and lastly it provides a record of the trip which will remain even when my memory falters.

In total, the blog contained 99,717 words spread across 38 posts (an average of 2,624 words per post). To put that into context, according to the internet, the novel ‘1984’ by George Orwell – a pretty standard-sized novel – is 88,942 words long.

As you can see, I put a lot of effort into it! I’m so glad I did it though and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

If any of you reading are thinking about doing a travel blog or a blog in general, I would definitely recommend it. But first of all, consider these factors:

For a travel blog:

-          Can you be bothered? If you’re on holiday, it is completely understandable to shy away from anything which requires any effort whatsoever. You need to weigh up the pros and the cons. For me, what I got out of it was worth the effort I put in. But you might think differently.

-          How often do you want to post? I made the decision to post once a day (ok I did have to do a bit of catching-up at some points when circumstances meant that I couldn’t post one day, but yeah…), and that was because I wanted my record of the trip to be detailed enough to bring back lots of memories when reading back through it afterwards, keep people at home well-updated and to make it entertaining and interesting. But it depends what you want to use it for, and that’s something else you need to think about.

-          Do you enjoy writing? Are you good at it? I wouldn’t claim to be a great writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I was happy enough with my own writing that I was willing to share it with other people. If you’re not confident with doing this, then don’t force yourself to do it and then ruin your experience. And at the same time, don’t always think about your audience. Ultimately, I wrote the blog for myself. It’s kind of like speaking out loud. But I wanted to share it with other people because I thought that they could get something from it and enjoy it, so that’s what I did.

-          Are you willing to sacrifice time during your trip to write your blog? As you will know if you kept up with this blog, I wrote most of my posts in the late evening/night-time. I was willing to do this because 1. I don’t enjoy clubbing/drinking/partying etc. so recreational activities at this time were few and far between for me, 2. I am exceptional at staying up late and 3. The lack of sleep was worth it. You are likely to think differently, though, so take this into consideration.

For a normal blog:

-          Have you got enough interesting stuff to talk about to make writing a blog worthwhile? If you read my first (and very aptly-named!) blog post, ‘Well this is interesting…’, you will see that I chose to start writing the blog because the trip provided interesting stuff to write about. Before the trip, I didn’t seem to have the time and my life didn’t seem interesting enough to justify writing one. But certainly don’t think that you have to be going through some major life event (such as a backpacking trip around Europe) to start writing one. Some of the best blogs are just ones which just provide an outlet for people’s thoughts and musings. If you think that something is interesting/entertaining and people will want to read it, share it!

-          Do you have a fucking clue how to write one? I’m not going to pretend that I do. A lot of you have probably read many many more blogs than I have. The only blog I really keep up with is Amanda Palmer’s (http://www.amandapalmer.net/category/blog/) – she is one of my favourite musicians/artists, is very entertaining and provides many thoughts on art and philosophy. She taught me pretty much everything I know about blog-writing – the rest I discovered by myself. And that’s the whole point. When you start writing one, you will create your own style. There are no rules as such. The only thing I would suggest is that what you are writing about has to be interesting/entertaining/worthwhile for SOMEONE. Even if it is only one or two people. Even if they are freaks. Even if it is yourself. It doesn’t matter. But if it isn’t interesting to anyone, then there is no point in spending your time writing it.

 
And just to reiterate, I’m not saying all this because I think I’m some amazing fucking blog writer. I just wanted to share with you what I’ve learnt from my experience so that you can take it into account if you’re thinking about doing something similar.

 
Ok, so what was this blog post about again? Oh yeah, statistics. Right. I’ve got plenty of those for you.

 
 
Number of swear words in the blog



Total number of swear words in the blog: 652

Average number of swear words per post: 17

Largest amount of swear words in one post: 65

 
No doubt you will have noticed a *slight* tendency for profane language to creep into my blog posts. I use it for emphasis, to express myself and for comic effect. You bitch.

 
In all seriousness, though, I swear more than the average person in everyday life. Why should I change that when writing the blog? If I did then it wouldn’t be me writing it.

 
As for the statistics, I actually thought it would be more than 652!! Maybe it’s because I said them in my mind while writing the blog but didn’t actually type them.

 
The post with 65 swear words in was for the day before we came back, which is understandable. There was the stress of actually making the mega trip back the next day with all the uncertainty surrounding our journey and how much money we had, and also that day we had planned to go to the beautiful Austrian village of Hallstatt, but had been denied by dodgy Austrian train information and our own stupidity. I think in that post there was probably a whole paragraph made up of the word ‘fuck’, so that explains a lot.

 
Anyway, 17 swear words per post isn’t actually that bad, is it?!

 
 
Number of exclamation marks in the blog



Total number of exclamation marks in the blog: 1311

Average number of exclamation marks per post: 35

Largest amount of exclamation marks in one post: 95

 
Exclamation marks were another very prominent feature within the blog. Believe it or not, I did actually try to avoid using them when I could. Surely if I used less exclamation marks and more words to express myself, it would show that my writing was better because I could just use a few choice words to express myself as opposed to like a million exclamation marks?

 
But as you could probably see, sometimes this became impossible. For example, when I was writing the post ‘Our first full day in Madrid!’, which was the post with 95 exclamation marks in. I think I was just so much like an excited puppy at times that putting 15 exclamation marks at the end of each sentence was a very easy habit to fall into.

 
I just worked out that it I used an exclamation mark for every 75 words that I wrote. I don’t think this is too bad considering I was on the trip of a lifetime…at least I’ll really be able to remember how I felt when I read back through the blog in the future.

 

Number of words made up of capital letters in the blog



Total number of capital letter words in the blog: 1488

Average number of capital letter words per post: 39

Largest amount of capital letter words in one post: 99

 
If the above title makes no sense to you, which I expect it doesn’t considering I put it in such a shit way, I’m talking about the number of words like THIS – i.e. every letter is a capital letter. For example, the word ‘someone’ in the sentence earlier which read “...interesting/entertaining/worthwhile for SOMEONE”. Got it?!

 
You should know what I mean if you read the blog frequently; I used them enough! Like with the swear words, I used capital letter words for emphasis, expression and comic effect. Sometimes writing words normally is just not enough.

 

Number of mistakes in the blog

 
I probably don’t need to tell you that there were some pretty disastrous errors in the blog. Spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, complete contradictions (saying that one thing happened and then saying that something else happened instead…woops…) and paradoxes.

 
If some of my mistakes made you cringe and/or want to shoot yourself, I honestly know how you feel. I hate reading through stuff that people put on the internet which has glaring mistakes in. If you’re going to put something on the internet, surely you’d put in the effort to make it correct?

 
My list of excuses:

-          Fatigue. Most of time when I was writing the blog I was fucking SHATTERED, running on very little sleep and writing until the very early hours.

-          Typing errors: We all know how easy it is to press one key instead of another when typing. Especially when your condition matches excuse no. 1.

-          Blogger being a little bitch: They do have a spell-check thing on Blogger, but obviously if the mistakes turn out to involve real words (which they did a lot of the time) then the spell-checker will not pick it up, even if the sentences you’ve produced make absolutely no sense. There is also no grammar checker on Blogger, so this didn’t help matters. Furthermore, Blogger had a habit of being a bitch with the layout of the blog, so when stuff like this happened, I had to sort that out before I could carry on writing. It disrupted the flow of things.

-          Distractions: When you’re on a terrace in southern Spain, for example, it’s difficult not to be constantly amazed by your surroundings. There would also sometimes be noise from other guests in the hostels and sometimes I would be listening to music.

Despite what I think are valid excuses (although I’ll let you be the judge of that), I apologise if my mistakes ruined your enjoyment of the blog.

I expect, though, that they could well have enhanced your enjoyment, because some of them were so fucking stupid that it made me laugh out loud when I was reading the blog back.

My personal favourite was when I put the word ‘same’ instead of ‘Sam’. Lower case and everything. I did it twice, too. Oh my life.

Anyway, here are the unflattering statistics:

Total number of mistakes in the blog: 143

Average number of mistakes per post: 4

Largest amount of mistakes in one post: 16

I don’t think 4 mistakes per post is that bad, considering the reasons I mentioned above!

The blog post with 16 mistakes was from our first day in Sevilla, Spain. When I was writing the blog that night, it was about 26 degrees (AT NIGHT-TIME!!!) and I didn’t finish it until 4.31am. Also we were on one of the nicest roof terraces of the trip. And I was listening to music. Not that I’m making excuses or anything.

Number of pictures in the blog

We’ve already seen the statistics for the number of pictures that we took during the trip overall; these statistics show how they were integrated into the blog.

Total number of pictures in the blog: 1330

Average number of pictures per post: 35

Largest amount of pictures in one post: 92

The total number of pictures that we took during the trip was 6217, so 21.4% of the pictures that we took went into the blog.

Considering that we took multiple pictures of certain things, this shows that quite a lot of the individual things that we saw were shown to you in the blog. I hope all of you were happy with the picture content, I can certainly testify that I tried my best to include as many as possible, and I also chose the best pictures where there were multiples.

In terms of actually uploading pictures to Blogger…it was hard at times. In places where the internet connection was good, uploading photos was really easy and quick. Sam’s photos were larger than mine in terms of computer memory as they were better quality, so they took longer to upload, but in general this was still fine.

Problems arose when the internet connection was not so good. My photos could still upload ok, but Sam’s took forever, and Blogger often froze in the middle of the uploading process…not helpful! It’s lucky that Blogger is constantly auto-saving your text as you write so you don’t lose anything.

Also, in Italy we became unable to upload photos from Sam’s iPhone as the programme we were using to transfer the photos from his iPhone to my netbook decided to stop working. These were mainly just snapshots from train windows, so you didn’t miss too much because of this.

Overall, though, Blogger is a good site to upload photos too. I’d say it is better than Facebook, for example, but I can’t really compare it to anything else. As long as the internet connection is good, then you will have no problems. But then I suppose that goes for more than just photos doesn’t it!

Statistics from Blogger

If you kept up with the blog when we were away, you will have noticed my occasional updates on the total number of pageviews that the blog had obtained. I had to update you because you didn’t have access to this information, whereas when I log in to Blogger, I can see lots of statistics about the people who have viewed my blog.

Actually it kind of borders on invasion of privacy but we’ll just forget about that!

I can see the total number of pageviews the blog has had in the last hour, day, week, month and all time. It also shows me what countries these pageviews have come from (it gives me the exact numbers and a little map showing the location of my audience), what internet browser they use (e.g. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari etc.) and what operating system they use (e.g. Windows, iPhone, Macintosh etc.). Oh, and it also shows me what websites people used to get to my blog (for example, Facebook was a common one because I often posted a link on there whenever I finished a new blog post) and also what Google searches have lead to people finding my blog.

I can also see how many pageviews each separate blog post has had, but this statistic isn’t really representative because if you just typed in the web address for the whole blog (i.e. www.rucksackjack.blogspot.com) then you could read multiple posts on the same web page. It only starts counting when people click on the posts individually. Whenever I posted on Facebook too, I always posted a link for the whole blog rather than individual posts, so yeah, this statistic really isn’t correct.

So let’s check out some of this shit! All of these statistics are correct as of  26th September.

Total pageviews: 3,896

So this is the tally so far. It is actually still going up gradually, albeit at a much slower rate than when we were away. For example, this week I’ve had 19 pageviews so far. The countries that these pageviews are coming from seem to be getting more and more exotic too, but more on that in a bit.

Clearly, some of these pageviews will also be mine. I had to view the blog as you would see it quite a few times when I was posting to check that the layout and stuff was ok (although sometimes layout problems were just too complicated to solve!). Also I had to look back through the whole blog when I was working out the statistics in this post. So I would suggest that you could probably take off the 96 to account for my pageviews, giving a total of around 3,800 overall.

I am still so so grateful to everyone who viewed my blog. You made it worthwhile and it was great to see so many people sharing our experiences. I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly enjoyed writing it, so yeah, thanks!!

Audience by country:

United Kingdom: 3054
United States: 332
Spain: 88
Denmark: 71
Germany: 47
Russia: 37
France: 32
Greece: 30
Austria: 28
Australia: 20

Now this is where Blogger has messed me around a little bit. Unfortunately, it only shows me the top 10 countries in terms of audience, however I’ve had pageviews from many many more. In fact, if I look at the statistics for this week as opposed to all time, it shows that I’ve had pageviews from Egypt, Singapore, Italy, Canada, Indonesia and more. So I’ll do two more lists now of countries that I know I’ve had pageviews from, and countries that I think I have pageviews from…from what I remember during the trip! This should be interesting…

Other viewing countries: Switzerland, Latvia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, Finland, India, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, The Netherlands, Sweden, Cyprus, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand.

Possible other viewing countries: Poland, Norway, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico.

As you can see, I managed to conquer all 6 inhabited continents! Quite happy about that.

It makes me wonder how some of these people found their way to my blog, but either way, if you are viewing from outside the UK, thanks!

Audience by internet browser:

Safari: 1432 (36%)
Internet Explorer: 1015 (26%)
Google Chrome: 594 (15%)
Firefox: 533 (13%)
Mobile Safari: 278 (7%)
Opera: 23 (<1%)

So a lot of people viewed my blog on Apple products it seems! I didn’t expect Safari to be top; I guess that shows how popular Apple products have become.

Apart from that, there’s not much more to say! It just shows what the most popular internet browsers to be honest. There were also one or two views on weird browsers that I’ve never even heard of before (ever heard of SeaMonkey?!?!) but they represented so little that I didn’t include them on the list.

Audience by operating system:

Windows: 1932 (49%)
iPhone: 1000 (25%)
Macintosh: 282 (7%)
iPod: 256 (6%)
Android: 246 (6%)
Linux: 75 (1%)
Blackberry (Blackbezza): 56 (1%)
iPod: 40 (1%)

No real surprise that Windows is top really, the rest is pretty much dominated by Apple.

Personal favourites:

Ok, so this part of the blog isn’t really statistics, but I thought I should include it just to put it on record. Since we’ve been back, a lot of people have asked me what my favourite bits of the trip were, so I thought I might as well share it with all of you on here.

My favourites

Favourite cities/towns that we visited: San Sebastian (Spain), Granada (Spain), Thun (Switzerland).

Favourite individual places: The rooftop terraces of our hostels in Córdoba and Sevilla, the plaza with a fountain and orange trees in Córdoba, the Alhambra in Granada, the wooden tower in Lausanne.

Favourite moments: Eating our first meal on our first night in Madrid, meeting a squizza in Madrid’s Retiro Park, listening to music while on the Sevilla roof terrace in the middle of the night, meeting a fellow traveller in the queue for Granada’s Alhambra, walking through the gardens of the Alhambra, having breakfast in a Venetian café, having a MASSIVE free 4-course dinner in our hostel in St. Moritz, playing the piano in Salzburg.

Favourite hostels: Umore Ona Bi – San Sebastian, Senses&Colours – Córdoba, Lausanne Guesthouse & Backpacker - Lausanne, Youthhostel St. Moritz – St. Moritz.

Favourite train stations: San Sebastian, Milan.

Funniest moments: The ‘apple core incident’ on a train in Austria, a woman dropping her whole McDonald’s meal on the floor in Florence.

Sam’s favourites

Favourite towns/cities that we visited: Granada (Spain), Barcelona (Spain).

Favourite individual places: The rooftop terrace of our hostel in Córdoba, the back-street playground in Granada, the Arena nightclub in Barcelona.

Favourite moment: Dancing in the Arena bar in Barcelona. (Jack: oh dear…)

Favourite hostels: Senses&Colours – Córdoba, Youthhostel St. Moritz – St. Moritz.

Favourite train station: Milan

Funniest moments: The ‘apple core incident’ on a train in Austria.


I would go into more detail about why these were our favourite parts of the trip, but you can see for yourself by reading the relevant posts in the blog! There will be plenty of pictures and description to satisfy your curiosity.

_________________________________

And this concludes The Statistics Blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank fuck, it’s only taken me like 33 days to write this shit.

If you can remember all the way back to the introduction of this post (I barely can because I wrote it so long ago), I said that it had been 17 days since the end of the trip. LOL. It’s now been 94 days. But I suppose now that more time has passed it is more appropriate to start looking back on it.

I also said in the introduction that I’d have to look through every blog post in detail…and I did. It took me FOREVER.

Writing this post was a journey of epic proportions in itself. Firstly, I came up with a list of statistics which I wanted to include, which grew and grew and grew. Then I realised, in order to make recording these statistics manageable, I would need to create a spreadsheet. So I made one with all of the column headings being the dates of the different blog posts, and then along the side I had things like ‘Number of swear words’ and ‘Called Sam a fatty’ so that I could record the number of times I did these things for each blog post separately, and then add them up at the end. While reading through the blog posts, I would make tally charts of the different statistics on paper, and would then record these totals in the spreadsheet once I’d finished reading. Once I’d finished the spreadsheet, I had to do some calculations, and then that was basically it!

I actually had the post finished on 11th August but I had it proof-read and other things got in the way, but it’s here now.

I’ve worked way too hard to this post!! It’s ridiculous. But in the end I’m kind of glad because it gets me back into work mode for when I go to university.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it has been informative/entertaining in some way.

While I hope that I’ve answered any question that you might have had, please feel free to ask me ANYTHING about the trip/blog/life via Facebook, email, through the comments box on this blog or any other appropriate means. If I suddenly get a torrent of really good questions then I might be tempted to do another blog post in a ‘question and answer’ format so that everyone else can benefit from it, but I will ask you first before I include your questions in the blog. That’s if there is a blog, which there probably won’t be.

So that’s it!!! Thanks again for reading you amazing people.

And I would just like to thank everyone who made the trip possible – the people who gave us money and other stuff, the people who gave us advice on where to go, the people at STA Travel who helped us to organise our flights/InterRail/insurance, and everyone who supported us. Couldn’t have done this shit without you!!

It’s been great to get back into blogging again, and this certainly won’t be the end of it for me. Even though the trip’s all over now (and I’ve dragged it out as much as I can in this blog) I’m sure I’ll find some more stuff to ramble about in some format. If I think it will interest you then I will let you know.

Until then…

3 comments:

  1. Hi Jack! I found your blog as I was searching for Madrid travel tips - didn't really find any, but I did find this fantastic blog! I read all of the posts over a span of.. two days maybe? And I laughed and laughed and I really enjoyed reading them and following the ups and downs of your trip!
    I bet I'm responsible for all the pageviews from Denmark! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Aw thanks! It makes me so happy to read this :) thanks for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. Travel journals vary widely, they can range from dry statements of what happened when - little more than an itinerary, to wildly evocative word pictures which transport the reader to far away places.

    Travel Advise

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