A prolific contributor for nearly three years, captain oddsocks has given us 30 beautifully written and historically informative journals ranging in destination from his birthplace in Australia to his new home, the Czech Republic. Along with his painting skills, captain oddsocks has a good eye through the lens: he walked away with the Photographer of the Year award in the 2005 U GO! Awards and has uploaded 3,000 dazzling photos, each one a perfect complement to his descriptive reviews. He is also one of those rare members who can boast having 100% Top-Rated Journals. Here’s more from the captain himself on everything from didgeridoos to mahl sticks.
IgoUgo: Tell us a bit about how you came to live in Echuca, Australia. What other places have your travels brought you to call home?
captain oddsocks: I was born in Echuca, and so were both my parents. Until I was 24 and taking my first trip to Europe, I’d only left town for about a week at a time on school camps and the like. That first trip was also my first time in an aeroplane.
IgoUgo: IgoUgo travelers name London as their favorite European destination, but you mainly write about less visited locales, such as your own Czech neighborhood. Convince us: the UK or the Czech Republic?
captain oddsocks: In the UK, if you look at someone the wrong way in a pub, you might get a glass smashed in your face. In a Czech pub, the biggest danger is being hugged to death by someone whose uncle emigrated to somewhere near your hometown. Czechs drink a lot of beer, but they spread it out. Brits drink a lot of beer, but they do it all on Saturday afternoon, which gets messy.
Five dollars in the Czech Republic buys you a decent lunch in an atmospheric local pub, six beers, a coffee, and two pieces of cake, or a bus ticket from Prague to Karlovy Vary (120km). Five dollars in the UK buys you a single-trip ticket on the tube, one English beer, or a takeaway burger if you’re lucky.
IgoUgo: Tell us something about your life, travel-related or not, that IgoUgo members might not know about you.
captain oddsocks: By trade, I’m a sign-painter. Computers produce a lot of signs now, but I learnt the old-fashioned way, with brushes and paint and gold-leaf and a mahl stick to steady your hand. In Australia, a sign-writer has to do an apprenticeship, which is an actual contract on paper. The tradesman agrees to teach his/her apprentice the craft, and the apprentice basically supplies the tradesman with four years of cheap labour in exchange.
I’ve tried to learn several musical instruments, but the only one I’ve succeeded at is the didgeridoo. A friend named Sean taught me the circular breathing by making me blow bubbles through a straw into a glass of water. Sean’s an interesting bloke; an accountant by profession, he now runs tours into a restricted part of Kakadu National Park in the Northern territory. Pity he doesn’t write for IgoUgo; he’s got some good stories to tell!
IgoUgo: We loved your Wroclaw Journal, “Silesia’s Cinderella City.” As always, it was replete with photos, particularly those of public art. What’s the one thing you wish you’d gotten around to in Wroclaw that time (or logistics) wouldn’t allow?
captain oddsocks: I really wanted to see the Raclawice panorama, a huge artwork that was transferred to Wroclaw after WWII. Unfortunately, I stumbled into a long weekend and the tours were booked up for days and days ahead. I could have happily visited the Mleczarnia café a couple more times, too.
IgoUgo: Captain Blogsocks is a favorite around our office! We really enjoyed the entry about the Gypsy parade. Do you feel like an ambassador to either or both countries that you’ve called home?
captain oddsocks: I guess both. I feel maybe more like an interpreter than an ambassador for the Czech Republic, in that facets of it are often misunderstood by foreigners, and I have kind of fallen into a position to be able to explain things. Around Czech people, I feel like an ambassador for foreigners in general, rather than Australia specifically; it’s nice to be able to show them that at least somebody is interested in more than just cheap beer and the Charles Bridge.