Diary of a Hobo at Dimensions Festival
I have scoured the Internet and can tell you that there is no definitive review of what Dimensions is like as a festival. There is no information on what to bring, what to expect or what prices are like to get to it. In fact, in terms of information, even the festival itself seems to take pride in being the most vague of all sources – only releasing “need to know” information a week before departure.
But don’t worry – that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? You’re in need of knowledge, information and possibly a laugh. So I have taken it upon myself — comedown/hangover combo and all — to share my diary that I “roughly” kept during my time getting to and during this festival.
Dimensions is a week-long festival held in the beginning of September in Pula, Croatia. Every September hundreds of wankers from London, South Hampton and fucking everywhere descend on the coastline of Pula, making their way to a campsite. The camp itself is huge; it houses pod-like accommodation, camper vans, as well as shower/toilet blocks, a market and various stalls selling booze, food and other accoutrements.
The site is home to the Fort Punta Christo, where the people of Dimensions have honestly got the location down pat. They’ve managed to turn various parts of the fort into different “arenas” for your listening, raving and drug-taking pleasure. The different areas are The Clearing, The Moat, The Arena, The Courtyard, The Dungeon, The Ballroom, Mungo’s Arena, Fort 1 and Outside the Fort.
There’s also the beach, which you’re allowed to go on at 10am. It’s patrolled by security, much like the rest of the festival and camping grounds. The beaches themselves are rocky as fuck, so jelly or sea shoes are a must unless you want to slice your foot open. You can buy lilos at one of the many shops for a reasonable price (but bartering is the way forward). These not only give you a comfy bed, but also a good sun lounger. There are bars on the beach selling alcohol etc. and music usually starts up at 12pm and doesn’t stop until 8am.
In terms of money, the festival works on a totally fucked tokens system. Signage may say that certain places or shops, boat parties etc. only take tokens; however, this is totally undermined when shopkeepers and bartenders give change back in kuna (Croatian currency). Big advice here is not to change too much of your beloved kuna into these shitty tokens. They are hard to get rid of and you’ll find that it’s better to be left with more of a legitimate currency than plastic tokens you’ll never be able to use again. There are loads of stalls throughout the festival and camping grounds where you can change your money to tokens, so it’s not a big deal.
Security is “pretty tight”. I use inverted commas because it is and it isn’t. When you arrive, you’ll get your bags searched before entering the camping grounds, but you yourself won’t go through any patting down. You can bring in pretty much fucking anything (more on that in the diary) without much hassle. Security check your wristbands when you enter the festival (the fort area) and when you re-enter into the camping ground or beach areas. Here is when it’s a hit and a miss: sometimes they will check your bags, sometimes they won’t. If they do, it’s usually just a quick peek inside with minimal rummaging on your part. Another thing that security get a bit bent out of shape about are water bottles. Again, it’s 50/50 if at the time they will actually give a fuck. But the rule of thumb is to bring in small bottles of water, but try and keep them in your bags or pockets. When you’re in the fort grounds, security can be a bit funny about you entering with a bottle of water. But you can get away with this by concealing them in your pockets or in a bag.
Drinks are fucking expensive. End of. It’s all relative, but if you’ve only brought 1,700 kuna for the week (roughly, £270) and cocktails are 50, and mixer drinks are paid for separately: e.g. 30 kuna for Red Bull and 90 kuna for vodka, you’re going to be broke as fuck pretty quickly. However, you can go to the shops on the camping ground and in the surrounding town and get Radler or a 2L bottle of wine for 20-35 kuna. So drink responsibly. The same goes for water – a bottle can vary between being bought in the fort area, and the markets (10-20 kuna). However, if you buy one bottle and are camping or staying in apartments on site, you can fill it for free at one of the camping water stations.
It’s 7pm and we’re being loaded onto our first bus for the night. My bag weighs more than an obese American child, and my patience is as thin as said child being denied a Krispy Kreme.
Half an hour earlier, Boyfriend was stamping his feet impatiently whilst I flung everything from medical supplies to a ‘Fresh Prince of Bell Air’ vest top into a huge black ugly backpack. It has to be said that maybe the bottle of wine before all this packing was probably ill-advised. Whatever – I’m on vacation!
We started sherpa-ing our load up one of Glasgow’s many horrible hills — my thighs on fire and breath ragged. Time was marching on and we were most certainly not. It was time to hail a cab. Tents, roll mats, and everything under the fucking sun someone could strap to themselves — we arrived at the station.
This journey’s only five-and-a-bit hours –- only. It’s the shortest part of our journey, and we’re only going to fucking Manchester.
We’ve arrived in Manchester. It’s a little after 12am. We wandered to find the next “elusive” bus stop – which apparently even the sagest of Manchurians has no bloody idea where it could be, let alone if it actually exists.
Finally, we were pointed in the right direction and found more like-minded people queued up. I’ll give it to them, Planet Festival really do like to stretch the world “vague” to its absolute limit.
So we’re in line waiting to get on the bus we might as well pin our wills too seeing as we’ll be on it that long. The queue itself looks like an Urban Outfitters staff meeting. Anticipating 36 hours on a smelly, cramped bus, I (obviously) did not put any makeup on. I figured I’d pack it, wait till we got across Belgium, maybe Italy and then slap some on when we stopped to see if our legs still work.
We’re on the bus, but we still haven’t left yet – it’s 2:15am and the natives are restless. Slow claps are being passed out to those deigning to show up 45 minutes late. I’m just thankful I packed enough Benadryl (aka Valium to me) to knock me out till the Dover ferry. Poor Boyfriend. He does not travel well. I, on the other hand, have developed a keen sense of survival when it comes to long, shitty journeys: hibernation. It’s the only way to truly pass time. I get into a car, even to be driven to a Tesco, and I’m head bobbing like Stevie Wonder trying to fight sleep off. It’s now a natural instinct.
We’ve stopped in Birmingham. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that everyone on this fucking bus is a wanker. It’s nearly 6am and if people aren’t talking incessantly, they’re drinking. Yes, drinking. Alcohol. At fucking SIX IN THE MORNING. This is what you get, Hayley, for sitting in the back of the bus. You shouldn’t have Rosa Parks’d it. You should have stood your ground. The front is where all the nerds are. Dopey blondes sleeping on their boyfriends’ shoulders and the 27+ year olds who are still “vibing out” with the best of them. Fuck. This. Shit.
So we’re in Dover. Apparently I slept through a stop and Boyfriend’s been “making friends”. I’m the girl that sleeps with her mouth open. Perfect. I’m still so tired. At least the ferry isn’t this hell hole bus.
Managed to get a drink on the ferry. 10am is a very respectable time to start imbibing, I feel. I can only handle one drink, otherwise I may nod off again. Some of the bus people are sat about playing that ridiculous game Ellen DeGeneres made or created or threw up. I want to fall into the ocean forever.
We’re in Germany. I think, or it’s Austria. After stopping briefly at a place my horrific German was telling me used to be a church/school for “kranker kinder”, we board for another long slog.
We’re only 13 hours off arriving in Croatia and the boisterous and loud group that Boyfriend and I inadvertently sat amidst have started snorting lines of Ketamine. This is the same group that has been drinking wine bottles through straws and playing that fucking Ellen DeGeneres game for two-and-a-half hours straight.
If there is one thing someone needs to survive the Sunshine Bus it is probably one of the following:
- Alcohol (and plenty of it)
- A strong sedative
- Any Class As, Bs or Cs
Other than that, the only sure-fire, non-synthetic way to surviving such a dangerous and cramped bus journey is to of course go with a group of friends… who inevitably will end up supplying you with one, if not all of the above.
Another couple of Benadryl later and I wave goodbye to hunger pangs and the ketted-up duo in front of me who have taken to putting their hands in and around the mesmerising green emergency exit lights above our seats.
I’d rather do 12 lines of MCAT than still be on the fucking Sunshine Bus. But here we are. I think we are in Slovenia. I couldn’t care less because I feel like my skin is now becoming one with the seat my ass has been glued to for what feels like days… I am becoming a seat on this bus. Maybe that’s what the seats are on the Sunshine Bus, just old passengers who never made it to Dimensions because it took so fucking long.
Captain’s log: We are running dangerously low on supplies. Foolishly, Boyfriend and I never thought to bring Euros with us, and the last two places we have stopped for stretching and libations have not had card facilities. We are down to half a bottle of lemonade, 2 Rice Krispy squares and what I think is a very squashed granola breakfast bar. I wish I hadn’t thrown out my sandwich on the ferry. How idiotic. I may end up scoffing some more Benadryl just so I don’t have to deal with this harsh and formidable environment.
Are we there yet???????????
WE’RE IN CROATIA!!!!!!! We’ve just gone through some sort of toll booth which – surprise, surprise – did not check our passports. Out of all the toll booths, ferry etc. none of them have checked the bus or anything. There are all manner of drugs aboard this bus. Honest to God, I feel like I’m part of some sort of Columbian haul or something.
We are now meandering our way through countryside and I can see the sea! This is all very exciting,. I thought we would NEVER get here.
We’re lost. The bus driver is apparently 20 minutes away from the campsite and we’re lost. What the actual fuck. This is the same bus driver that has navigated his way through at least five countries and he stumbles at the last hurdle! Nooooo! I can see the coliseum where the opening concert is going to be held tonight. It’s fucking massive. Luckily, Boyfriend’s flatmates who are smarter than we are flew this morning, so have arrived and set up camp ahead of us. This means we’ve been able to get tickets to the concert etc. Happy, happy days.
WE ARE HERE. OMG. WE’VE ARRIVED. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing. It’s about 30 degrees and my face is melting. We are just setting up the tent and sorting out bags etc. They have everything here. A medical tent, a welfare tent, internet café tent… markets, food stalls.. I shall want for nothing. The atmosphere is electric and everyone is mucking in together. We have a spot right by the entrance to the festival/beach area, so we’re right in the thick of it. We’ve managed to get a semi-shaded area, which is good.
We’ve got our tickets now for the boat that’s going to take us to the Coliseum tonight for the opening concert. It’s Mount Kimbie and Bonobo live and I can’t wait! We’ve managed to get set time lanyards as well, which is good.
After a mission and a half to try and find some cheap plonk – we almost didn’t make it to our boat! Luckily, there are all manner of festival go-ers outside the camping site and in the town surrounding, so we bumped into someone easily. We managed to find Radler and wine for 30 kunas, which is pretty good; they’re 2-bomb bottles too. The boat is full of people and we’re just drinking and getting hyped for tonight.
The concert was amazing. Holy crap. The atmosphere was amazing, and we managed to run into a bunch of people from Glasgow randomly! Such a small world. So good to dance and drink with everyone. HOLIDAY STARTS NOW. Went down to the beach with Boyfriend and his flatmate Sam and some random we met called Rich. The beach was jamming, and the bass was shaking every single fucking jagged rock clinging to the shore. I wasn’t really feeling the vibes, so I went back to tent. Apparently I missed the world’s dodgiest drug deal.
So it begins.
The entire campsite is one massive commune filled with three types of people: first type are all about the drugs. The second are all about the music; and finally, the third are hybrid of both, making up a vast majority.
We went to the beach today, aka the jagged rooftop of the Fortress of Solitude. Christ it’s rocky. Boyfriend managed to splash about in the sea for all of three seconds before cutting his foot. We were all a bit concerned as the blood gushed into the ocean. There were definite questions as to how deep said gash was; however, the copious amounts of alcohol were to account for the blood thinning and subsequent loss.
The medical tent has just kitted him out with a fetching bandage – which no doubt I’ll have to change when it’s at its most fetid point. Boyfriend is upset but happy it’s not an amputation. As am I.
Back at the campsite now, lounging on lilos. The only cheap thing to eat here is 10 kunas and is a roll covered in cheese with various strips of ham or salami stuck to it. Heated up or cold, I don’t know how long this can sustain me.
There’s been talk at our camp about maybe being able to get on the Mungo’s Hi Fi boat party tonight, which would be cool.
I feel like I could sleep forever.
I slept forever. It’s now 5pm or something. Yesterday (and I don’t know how I managed it), I managed to get on the Mungo’s Hi Fi boat party. One of the guys at our camp had met him coked out his nut or something (the DJ or him, it wasn’t entirely clear) and it eventually transpired that said DJ could get us on the boat. Something about us being Scottish really turned him on or something. I’m joking. It’s basically because of all us Scottish bastards that he felt a bit homesick. Anyway, I don’t think he bargained for how many of us there actually were. About 20 of us turned up to squeeze onto a free guest list that was only meant to have room for 12. It all worked out though. I don’t think I’ve danced to dub or reggae so much in my life, let alone listened to it. By hour two I was about to throw myself from the stern of the boat and let the fucking thing plough through me. It was relentless. The air reeked of joints and sweat. It was abysmal. My knees felt like they were going to cave in from the stress of being continuously bent and the second hand smoke made my lungs ache.
When we finally got back to shore, I ran off the boat and started up the hill without the girls. I couldn’t be arsed waiting. I had four missed calls from Boyfriend and his friend; they met us, unimpressed of course, and we headed back to camp.
Tonight is going to be better though. I can feel it. As Rebecca Black would say, “It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday.”
Who knew that South Hampton would be the Silk Road to the rest of Britain. A lot of the guys at camp are pissed off because they found out that you can buy a gram of Ket for £15 South of the border, but up in Glasgow one gram will cost you upwards of £30. Anything beginning with K is apparently slang for the drug. Kestrel is my favourite. I just like how a bird of prey would be the symbolism. I thought you fell into a K-hole, but apparently these guys are fucking soaring.
It seems to be the most popular drug of the moment. Anyone sniffing around for MCAT gets a sharp look and a disgusted snort thrown in their direction. That shit is the worst.
I met some wild-eyed yank tonight. He’d smuggled 100 sheets of acid in from Detroit and wore a rainbow coloured metallic chain that said UNICORN and was really into telling everyone about the intimate details of his cavity search at Heathrow. We’d all be sitting at dusk around the lilos, smoking, drinking, talking about who was taking what and spending how much on how many. The temperature would drop and before long everyone would be asking where I got my Nike vintage jacket from and I would huddle next to Boyfriend while he took a toke and I wished I was cool enough to smoke.
“It’s a blunt, not a microphone.” The wild-eyed yank’s nasal voice cut through everyone’s conversations and there was a delayed laugh as everyone realised what was going on. There was a, “Sorry mate,” in a broad London accent and the stretching of arms and bodies to pass back the troublesome spliff.
The dealer that’s been trying to nick my jacket off of me from the word go has just torn me a corner off of some acid.
I’m looking forward tonight. I can’t believe tomorrow’s the last day. It’s been absolutely mental. Honestly, the people here are mental and the banter is rife. Why wouldn’t you want to go?
Last night one of the guys who hangs about our camp got arrested. He’d forgotten to hide a gram of mandy and the security at the entrance of the campsite picked him up.
While in custody, he asked for some water and poured his gram and a half of Ket he had on him into the water. He was too scared to get caught with more. The security ordered him to pay a fine of £900 and let him go, although they seized his passport. He’ll have to get the money before he gets it back.
He’s been stumbling around the campsite trying to get money off of naive campers wanting to try something new before they leave.
I can’t believe tonight is the last night. We’ve met so many amazing people and it’s going to be so strange going home. I am so not looking forward to that bus. Jesus.
I’ve just got back to the campsite. It’s 11:30am. I woke up on the beach earlier, the sun baked me while I lay on a grotty inside-out sleeping bag. We had strolled down to the beach at about 6:30am and I’d broken away from my usual group and sat on a wall on an eastern corner of the peninsula while everyone around me huffed nitros from balloons. Massive bags hung under everyone’s eyes and we turned ourselves towards the lulling sounds of the waves crashing on the pebbley shore.
The sun must have woken me up. I wasn’t burned, but if I hadn’t have woken I might have turned into a lobster. I stumbled back to the tent and here I am.
Last night, one of the guys we met took my friend and I by the hand and we walked along the fort stalls. He and his friend wanted to go back into one of the arenas, but us girls knew that, being the last night, the queues would be horrendous to get in. Just as we were about to protest standing in a queue, a light rain falling – raindrops beading their way down our necks and backs and breasts, one of the guys produced a hi-viz jacket. All the festival workers wear one, and I have no idea where he got it from, but we got into everywhere. It was amazing. I’ve never danced or smiled so much in my life.
It’s weird still being here when most people have left to go home. The camp is quiet, but the music is still blasting bass all day. Everyone is slowly winding down and there is a collective feeling of wanting to move onto the next party. A lot of folk have moved on to other festivals that start today or tomorrow. I’m quite jealous. Back to reality.
We spent the day, Boyfriend and I, with a fellow camper we’ve become friends with. We lay about eating and drinking water and generally hydrating and relaxing. We just sat and talked about everything – the weather, music, life – and waited for our phones to charge at the power point, giving it a sideways glance every now and then.
The shower blocks are truly disgusting. Hair, mud and sand is caked onto the floor. The cleaners shoot a look of equal disgust at me as, forgetting my shoes, I gingerly tiptoe through the mess.
We’ve packed up all our stuff, and Boyfriend and I have managed to take two lilos that were abandoned. We’ll use them as mattresses tonight, thank God. We have to be up early to collect our passports and head to, dare I say it… the bus.
The long journey home begins. I’m so overtired from such a disturbed sleeping pattern.
We seem to have barrelled our way through Europe and are so close to getting the ferry I can taste Blighty from the front of the bus. Boyfriend and I decided to take the front of the bus since it would mean we can get off and on at stops easily. The back of the bus was the worst the last time.
I’m feeling so unbelievably sick. Cramps, travel sickness and a festival hangover are creeping up on me, I think.
We’ve finally made it to the UK, and of course now the traffic is the worst. I can’t believe I have to work in the next 48 hours. I don’t know how I’m going to do it.
Ugh – a lot of people are now asking to be dropped off at places like the bus is a fucking taxi service. All I want to do is get home.
I miss the sunshine. I miss the water. I miss the music. I can’t wait to book my ticket next year. Definitely going to do both festivals: Outlook & Dimensions. Hopefully get a group of people together and just go all out.