Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sete - Tarbes-Lourdes-Bordeaux-New Rochelle-Chartres

Recap: Our misguided drunken traveller has gone off on his own and is in the south of France where he managed to talk a Swede (Ann) and a Norwegian (Leina) into sharing a hotel room.

We woke up with the gorilla hangover taunting us like a real bastard. The brightest amongst us was Leina despite her sudden onset of alcohol-induced illness the previous evening. After Ann and I untangled ourselves in the small bed I managed to get my act together and waited while the girls made use of the basic bathroom facilities. Then I went and blokefied it, ensuring that I'd left the convenience unusable for any enemies who may come along after we'd gone. Its a tactic other invaders or defenders (or both) had employed in their own rampages through La Belle France.

We conferred over croissants and croque monsieurs at a nearby cafe. Leina was heading north to meet up with some other Vikings whilst Ann was due in Spain in a few days. We got on a train and Leina jumped off after an hour to change to her Viking RV express and Ann and I headed off to Tarbes. We walked around for a while and sat in a cafe, talking about what we'd do. The romance was always going to be a brief affair between travellers but there's always that nagging feeling; the "what if" screenplay which runs itself through with no regard for timing, circumstance or my lack of emotional depth. Its distracting for a reason. Its to teach us, add some experience and hopefully give us a clue about other people. Ann and I finished our late afternoon meal and headed to the hostel. When we arrived I realised that my neck pouch, containing my passport and the biggest portion of my travellers cheques was missing. Fuck fuck fuckety fuck fuck fuck! Panic mode combined with a sense of realistic resignation. I did a search and it was nowhere to be found. Damn and blast, it also contained my Fruhstuck Express card!

Be fucked if I was ever going to tell Doug about this. His laughter howl would be way off the scale of anything previously experienced. More importantly I had to. Find. The. Fucking. Pouch. So I left Ann guarding the rest of my gear and sprinted (yes folks, in those days I was still a social sporting type - soccer in winter, the odd social cricket game in summer and wasn't completely allergic to running. I was also travel fit, lugging a full backpack around with me). Sprinted to the cafe and scoped the place out. Ha! I spotted the waiter who had laughed at my faulty French.

"I left my pouch here." Now I sounded like a desperate kangaroo which had misplaced part of her anatomy. "Did you find it"?

Woo hoo! No, it was WOO FUCKING HOO!!! M. Le Fetcher de Cafe et Repas reached down behind the counter and handed me the brown pouch of goodness. I rifled out a hundred francs and handed it straight to my newest, bestest froggy pal.

"D'accord. Merci monsieur, 'revoir." were his parting words. I made my way back to Ann but milked the situation for some sympathy by pretending to have failed in my quest. Yes, I can be a bastard. After a couple of minutes I fessed up, showed her the pouch and showed her the bottle of red I'd invested in on the way. We checked into the hostel, checked out nooky spaces and went out for a meal. After chowing down on some bifteck and downing a couple of beers and a bottle of red we repaired back to the little nooky corner we'd discovered previously.

The following morning we broke fast on croissants and coffee and headed off to Lourdes. Ann wasn't a Catholic but we were fascinated by the religious zealotry the place generated. Personally I thought that it was an enormous myth and a great little money spinner but nevertheless I tried some of the water. It tasted like, well, like water and didn't so much as help with my residual hangover. Miracles shmiracles. I told Ann it was a good birth control device so we wouldn't need to use any more frangers, if and when. She didn't believe me. Did not share the belief unlike the phalanx of wheelchair jockeys who queued up hoping for miracles. Bugger of a thing to do, wheel up in a long line for a few hours hoping for the impossible. But I then asked myself would I do the same in their situation? I'd probably try anything. Overall it was fascinating to see the industry and infrastructure which had been built around a young girl who'd seen apparitions of Jesus' mum. The Grotto and the church were two great examples of religious enthusiasm and very impressive. It made me wonder if something else had been in the water back in the mid 19th Century. What wasn't in the water was anything remotely to do with booze so we lit out back to Tarbes.

Back in Tarbes we walked and canoodled in the local park then checked out the museum. We tagged on a guided tour and I did my best to figure out what the French guide was saying but I was pretty hopeless. We lagged behind and read the captions posted for each exhibit. I noticed that none of them mentioned anything about cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Okay, so it was back to the hostel, clean up and hit a cafe for dinner. We had a beef stew which was especially delicious and knocked back a couple of beers and some nice red to enhance our farewell repast. The next day I was heading north on my way to the Paris RV and Ann was heading to Spain. What was it with hot chicks and fucking Spain? I could have sworn thats where Cherrie (the Torontonian who Doug stole off me) went as well. Must have been some sort of Festival of Really Great Women going on down there. And I was committed to a meet in Paris. Remember, back in the Eighties there was no such thing as Twatter, mobile phones, emails or other digital stalking devices. When you travelled you used mail drops such as Poste Restante, hostels/hotels/camping grounds, or pisshead traveller clubs like London Walkabout Club (22A Craven Terrace, Lancaster Gate - I still remember that one). Mostly these were successful as the motivation was there to get word from friends and family. It added a bit of romance and aventure to travelling, seeking out a post office in somewhere like Hamburg, hoping for some clue of what was going on at home, to find out if Jo from Melbourne was going to fly over to Europe and meet up in London. Irregular communication added a random spice to the travel mix.

Ann and I spent some together time in the park as the hostel was full of children, some German group learning how to invade France and our previous evening's nooky corner had been converted into a screening room for Disney cartoons. Nice together time.

In the morning we shared breakfast and hit the station. My train was due in first and as it pulled up we embraced and made promises to write to each other. Promises which we kept. It was a sad parting and I hated the wistful, almost beseeching look on her face as the train took me on my way. Fuck it! Suck it up and keep going. Speaking of which, where the fuck was I going? North. How about Bordeaux first, they've supposedly been storing lakes of nice wine for centuries and I'd better dive in. Okay doke, Bordeaux it is. I landed in Bordeaux, checked out the centre of town and hit the hostel, satisfied I had enough landmarks for a leisurely attack the next day. After securing a bunk I walked around the environs and found a wine merchant! Voila! You little ripper. I'll have one of these nice jobs and one of those cheap fuckers thanks. Merci, mon vendor of vin rouge. If only I had known.

Back at the hostel it was feedin' time so I tucked in, cracking open my nice bottle and it was a superb example of the region's product. So nice that I invited an Irish girl to join me. We cracked on with it and I brought out the cheap option. It was a fiery little number but seemed drinkable. Irish disappeared somewhere between the first and third glasses so I polished the thing off myself and stumbled to my bunk. I passed out well satisfied (i.e. drunk). At about three in the morning I awoke to stomach cramps and onset of severe diarrhoea. I made it to the bathroom, did my best and then crashed out for another two hours when it came on again. This cycle happened twice, by which time I was begging the hostel commandant to let me stay in for the day. No fucking frogging way, not even when I threatened to call in the Luftwaffe. Not good. I needed to lie down and have access to toilet facilities. I camped in a nearby park all day, within stumbling distance of a public toilet. It was not a pleasant way to spend my relax time in Bordeaux. All I could stomach was water but even that kept on coming up. Where the fuck was I, India or France? This was plainly ludicrous. That night I managed to get through a solid kip without any eruptions so the next morning I headed to the station, figuring on a bit of recuperation in New Rochelle, a seaside town on the west coast. I kipped on the train, trying to munch on a croissant and struggle my way through "Ulysses", failing on both counts so I just kipped for a while, dreaming of better health and a good feed.

When I got off the train I scoped out directions for l'auberge. While I was weakly making my around to the bus stop a van pulled up displaying the youth hostel logo so I clambered in and got a ride. After checking in I was able to keep down a bowl of stew and a beer. Now that was good news. To celebrate this I had another beer and a walk walk around the local environs. When I got back the hostel's bar was working, the stereo was cranking and I found myself in amongst a crew of cyclists. They were fixing late night meals and downing beers and invited me to do the same. I told them I was an honorary cycle traveller as my mate Doug was supposedly doing much the same as what they were. His capacity for beer drinking however was way beyond theirs and I left them to their crawling, dribbling selves and sat outside for a while pondering the marvels of beer and its restorative qualities. These thoughts carried me to my bunk.

The following day I found my way to the local beach which was largely infested with Brit tourists on their 2 week continental vacation. It was a precursor to what I now experience around Bondi.
Complaints about the food (French cuisine), the beer (cold and refreshing), the weather (brilliant sunshine) and the lack of English speakers around the place. I ignored it and enjoyed the sun and the sea. By the end of the day I was completely restored to good health. I made the most of it by bar hopping and ended up back at the hostel in company of a group of Irish, one of whom I'd previously met in Cork. The hostel bar closed around 1.30, by which stage I'd mapped my next day's travel.

The hostel van took me to the station after a pleasant croque monsieur breakfast and I headed off to Chartres. I chose this place because its close to Paris but doesn't have as much ratsacker congestion. I got there, checked in and finished off whatever bread and cheese I had and looking forward to a quiet night before heading off to Paris the next day for my RV with Deb, Brian, Mick and Mick's cousin, Tim. A quiet night until some English professor started talking about French beer. He happened to have a car parked outside and knew "just the sort of place to enjoy a couple of jars". Poor fool actually offered me a lift. We drove into the centre of town and hit this bar-cum-pub-cum-cathedral. It resembled a church but the only devotion displayed here was to booze and music, and like any good follower I joined in with the local faithful. The Prof told me all sorts of historical facts, apparently his degrees were in History. I joined in where I could but my eyes glazed over by the time he mentioned something about Gaelic influences in the north of France and some annual festival. Well, the festival wasn't here so I blinked my eyes twice and ordered "encore". That's all you have to say and they bring you more drinks. The table we were at was populated by some English, a German couple and a few French. They were highly amused by my attempts to speak their various languages, especially at one stage when I told the Germans about me having a caesarean in Switzerland. What I'd meant to say was a "kaiser schnitte" which was some giant schnitzel I'd had one time. After we'd milked this joke the Prof was leaving so I tagged along. When we got to the hostel it was well and truly locked up for the night. Except to me. Before we'd left I'd wedged one of the downstairs windows open, knowing full well what was to ensue. I lobbed into the window, opened it fully and noticed the Prof struggling to get in. He asked for some help so I grabbed him under the arms and hoisted him through. The bugger could have warned me he had a gammy leg! Oh well, we were in now, no harm done except for a sore professorial leg. Nothing that a bit of rest wouldn't fix. Time for some kip. As I lay in my bunk amongst a bunch of other now=awake ratsackers I did admit to myself that I was a lucky bastard at times, especially given that the next day I was to meet up with some friends from home. It was to be midday, under La Tour Eiffel and would mark the beginning of some more fun and frolics.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sete With Leina and Ann

Having said bye-bye to Dave and a temporary farewell to Doug I had a week or so to kill before making another RV, this time in Paris with Deb (ex-flatmate), Brian (Deb's husband to be), Mick (good cricketer and sort of ex-flatmate) and Mick's cousin Tim. So I looked at my map and diary and realised I could do a quick 2-dayer to Lauterbrunnen, catch up with a drinking acquaintance and get back to France and maybe check out a town or two on the way to Paris.

Fine. I hotfooted it to said Lauterbrunnen which is set in a valley surrounded by huge fuck-off mountains, like the Jungfrau and Schilthorn. Its fan-fucking-tastic. However I realised I'd left my towel in Lyons so I was no longer a cool frood who knows where his towel's at. I was forced to go and buy a new one which upset me because I was attached to my old towel. It had served me well for a few months, like a faithful retainer who is only noticed when he dies. Anyways, the scenery in the Lauterbrunnen valley is picture perfect and I caught up with Mark and had a couple of sharpies with him, which we chilled in one of the creeks whilst taking in the views. Brilliant stuff. We caught up, shot some shit and enjoyed being in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful parts of the world you could ever wish for. The next day Mark had to take off on his Contiki bus and I made a bee-line back to France. On the way I had a quick re-union with a couple of Aussie girls I'd met a couple of months previously and told them to meet me in Paris. They looked doubtful. I forgot to remember that Aussie chicks could see right through my bullshit, no matter how homesick they be and in need of good old Aussie frolics. They weren't keen and its bye-bye to Lauterbrunne and the idea of catching up with Gabrielle and Kaylz in Paris. A shame really, they were well in tune with themselves and would have been a blast to knock around with.

So no bends, back to France. I settled on going to Sete. No reason, just because it was on the coast. I landed there and checked out the hostel. Man, the queue was long, very long, but in my opinion it was worthwhile. That's because I spotted an attractive nordic girl at the end of the queue and jumped in behind her. After a minute or so Leina and I were getting along famously. I was concerned that the hostel may be full but I stuck by her side, come hell or high water. That's because I'm a chivalrous sort of gent and wouldn't want her to be left alone amongst the swarming, desperate hordes milling in front of us. We were soon joined by Ann from Sweden and had a merry old time. I got onto feeding them all sorts of lies about Australia and they politely endured my bullshit. In fact they were becoming interested in my crap stories and time flew until we were told that the hostel was in fact full and could we all fuck off and go somewhere else, hopefully to our own countries and never set foot in France again. This is the sort of situation where you need to drive up in a VW, speak something guttural and wait for the mayor of Sete to come up with freshly signed surrender documents, the keys to the local winery and his three ballerina daughters. Seeing as how I was out of VW's another course of action was needed. Hmmm. What to do? Here I am in the company of a hot girl from Norway and another from Sweden. Hmmm again. Ha! An idea.

"I guess we'd better find a cheap hotel or something." I suggested. The girls agreed. They didn't run away! You bloody little ripper, a bloke's a dead cert here! A Norwegian and a Swede! Woo hoo! So we tootled down to the centre ville and started casting about for hotels. We lobbed into a cheap dive and got a room which had two beds, a shower and toilet. Yes that's right, two beds. I realised that fantasies of three-in-abed sex romps were simply that, fantasies, but a bloke doesn't get a lot of opportunities to test such water, so I dunked my elbow into the bath and gauged the temperature. Lukewarm at best. A cute laugh from Leina and a shake of the head from Ann. I put that idea on hold.

I wasn't surprised at the rejection but its always best to ask instead of wondering. It was now time to see if alcohol could shorten the odds so we headed off to a cafe and had a feed plus beers, plus wine. I snookered a bottle for 'afters' and we strolled home, nicely fed and fuelled by a good measure of alcohol.

Back in our palace I popped the vino and started on with more stories, telling the girls about previous adventures involving the Crazy Belgian, Fruhstuck Express, pizza joints in Lyons, as well as other doings in my travels.

They told me stuff about Norway and Sweden and started to loosen up. I still had nordic porn running through my head and couldn't get my tactics sorted out. Do I play a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 formation? Is it an up and in defence or sliding and should I chip and chase on the last tackle or simply go for distance? A field goal's no good, we're two behind. Have to go for the try. Fuck, its in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and we're 5 behind but the opposition midfield keeps on killing the ball. We have it in our back pocket, what do we do? Three kicks up the ground and bank on the full forward taking a mark against the two talls? Is there a small up there to do the roving and sneak a major?

I settle for a 4-3-3, chip and chase and three kick option. I pour more wine. Always go for the booze option, especially with Norwegians and Swedes. That was all fine and good until Leina's defense hardened the fuck up and intercepted the match-winning pass. Her stoic defenders made her stomach empty itself and her brain to shut down. At least she'd made it to what served as the ensuite before the eruption. Bugger. Should have just taken a shot from outside the area instead of bringing on the super-sub bottle of vin ordinaire. At least she'd cut loose in the toilet proper and managed to even flush away the evidence. Her stumbling effort and death collapse onto the big bed ended all hope I had for a 2-0 victory.

At this stage Ann was looking a bit pasty as well so I dutifully fetched her a glass of water, found a bucket to put on the floor next to Leina and brought a couple of towels on from the interchange bench. If you're going to lose, may as well do it properly and with a semblance of pride.

Ann managed to navigate her way through pre-sleep ablutions while I was looking at my guide book. I was looking up night spots in Sete but this book had nothing. No answers. Sete was a bust on all fronts. Ann was in her nightshirt ready for the sandman, Leina was looking quite comfortable sprawled across the bed and I decided to go for the big specky, thirty five out on a fourty-five degree angle with ten seconds remaining on the clock. I invited the Swede to share my bed. She shook her head, untangled Leina and made herself all nesty and bed-bumpy. Bugger it Therbs, you really need to brush up on your tactics here m'boy. You know better than this.

I abluted and got into bed, but couldn't get to sleep. In the ambient light the recumbent figures of the two girls was annoying the shit out of me. I rolled over, facing the wall and started a bit of rumination. Here I was in the south of France having made an arse of myself with a couple of nice girls and was likely never to see them again after saying goodbye in the morning. I had about a week before my RV in Paris with my work colleagues and ex flatmates so I figured out I may as well go across to Lourdes, drink some water and then start north. I drew a mental map and had pencilled in a stop at La Rochelle before I started dozing off. I had a semblance of a plan nestled lazily in my mind when I felt something else lazily nestling itself against my back.

"Are you sleep?" whispered Ann, "I think prefer sleep with you not Leina."

"I'm glad you do" I whispered back while my cartoon self started dancing around the room whooping, whistling and yelling out to the world, "Yes!" The goal umpire signalled a major just as the full-time siren sounded. I dipped past the left back, shaped over the ball, swung left, toed right and struck the ball hard and high, bending it into the top left corner. Goooaaaaalllll! Fifth tackle, five seconds to go and I received the ball from dummy half, spotted a big forward in the line a metre in from of the rest and grubbed the ball past him, dove and grounded the slippery ball. Try time!!!!

The cartoon ended and we got busy with the reality of summer in Sete.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Now Where Was I? Saving The Premier's Life.

Ah yes, there you are. I was wondering where you'd gone. Sit down and let's have a chat.
Fuck me if that doesn't sound like an invitation for a career change, not of your own volition.
It happened to one of the casuals here and it was a dark, dark time. He was a young bloke but probably the best in my team. The problem was he was only a casual employee and all casuals were given the arse. We ended up having quite a few emotional farewell drinks that Friday down at Bar Luca. I hadn't been there since Lerm dropped in for a couple back in April and it turned out to have a couple of moments. One of which was when Nathan Rees, the Premier of New South Wales, walked in and started having a couple of beers with his hangers on. Fair dinkum, these blokes are wimps. The footy was on and they had their backs turned, blocking other people's view of the plasma screens. Tossers. My bloke who'd been sacked that week was all for launching himself across the tables and punching on with the Premier. We were a few sheets to the wind at this stage and the young bloke (built like a brick shit house), was getting a bit emotional about his situation. It was angry emotional and not looking like a happy outcome. Probably very unhappy when you consider that people like Premiers usually have Hard Men waiting in the wings, keen to display their hardness when it comes to pissed young blokes wanting to land a few blows on the Premier's noggin. Mind you, all I saw was a couple of slimy little politicians who looked like they'd to water as soon as someone bunched a fist. Not like the old school Labor Party rough nuts who made it through pre-selection by beating ten shades of shite out of all comers during faction fund-raiser nights in the back bar of the Trades Hall. You know, those front line guys who bussed up to Brisbane to take on Bjelke Petersen's storm troopers when that old cunt was busily breaking up gatherings of more than two people through the use of nightsticks, dogs and rugby league front rowers. They'd jump off the bus, start swinging until they were overwhelmed by a hundred baton-wielding cops, spend the night in the lock-up getting beaten up again and then go down the pub the next night saying how much they enjoyed the whole experience. Mad buggers, but tough as nails.

Anyway we managed to calm the young bloke down and after some hearts to heart and profound advice (like go overseas and check out the girls, the drinks and the culcha), he managed to leave in a semi-positive if still slightly aggressive mood. Subsequent checks with the police show no evidence of him getting into strife.

There's a few blogs which I still can't pollute with my comments and that's pretty fucked in itself. Blogs belonging to people like Moko, Lerm, NatV, Flinthart, Bedes' Magic Tipping Comp, Rhino, YankeeDog, etc. are for some reason reacting like a fucking swine flu nazi quarantine person whenever I look like sprouting bullshit in their direction. Its not the fault of those good folks, must be some sort of corporate ninja block down here at the bureau. And its pissing me right off. I haven't gone all Havock yet but its getting close, I can hear the roar of that tsunami of feralocity rising in my mind like one of those ripping king tides which used to clean the eastern seaboard beaches of durry ends, beer cans and empty vaseline jars some time around New Years'. Ah, stuff it. Rant over. By jingies I must admit I feel better for it. I'll feel a lot better when I venture forth for a few sharpies in a short while.

Oh yeah, I'm still working up the next instalment of Ratsacking in Europe or whatever it is I've been posting. I need to consult my diary on a few minor points, like where, when and with whom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Geneva, Dave's Birthday, note to Bedes

So where were we again? Ah yes, Montreux, sitting in the cop shop while Doug gets his police report about his stolen passport and gives me the evils for agreeing to go off with the lovely Cherrie and abandon the idea of Dave's birthday. Remember, he'd nabbed her right from under me in the first place so it was his turn to suffer and I was enjoying it.

The three of us hit the railway station and said bye-bye. Doug was relieved to discover that I wasn't really abandoning our plans and would meet up with him and Dave in Geneva in the near future. In the mean time I had another rendez-vous to manage in Interlaken so I hit the rail network again. That was basically a side-trip although I did split a couple of beers with an old ex- WW2 Fallschirmjager guy and his wife in some cafe. Even though he used to be a "dirty Kraut" I shook his hand. He held the Anzacs in Crete in very high regard so I didn't even let on about Colonel Klink.

I made it to Geneva. Hmmm, what to do? First of all I booked a bunk at the local YH and cast about for food and drink. Not far away was a cafe which sold cheap ham sandwiches and large glasses of beer. Perfect. After eating and downing a few 'Schlossen I started thinking that Doug wouldn't know where I was so I got up to leave. Doug was at the bar ordering beer.

"Better make that two." was my advice to the silly Canuck, adding "Be quick about it."

Always take the opportunity to get something in, no matter how small it be.

"Suck my cock!" I'd beaten him. That was always his standby if he could think of nothing else.

We then settled into some catch up and pre-planning. Dave was due in later so we needed to have the semblance of an idea ready for him. His birthday was the next day. We decided to go shopping. Doug had already checked in so it was a case of finding a supermarket, stocking up on some provisions (beer, bread, cheese and cold cuts) and hang out for Dave. By this time we'd grown the crew by a couple of Americans, one of whom, Chris, seemed to be a bit thirsty. He reckoned he was in for a "big night with the boys".

Eventually Dave fronted up so we took off to a nice little park and ate and drank and drank until the beer was gone so we started bar hopping. We were pretty messy by curfew time so we made it back just in time. Young Chris was stuffed. He'd thrown up the white flag an hour earlier but had hung in because of a couple of teachers from Melbourne we'd started chatting up. Unfortunately they were both either newly wedded or engaged (silly bints) and staying in a local hotel while their husbands were working some overseas travel scam as employees of the Federal Department of Trade or some such nonsense. Bastards.

The white flag wasn't the only thing Chris threw up that evening. I'm glad I wasn't in that room.

The next morning we hit the Fruhstuck Express and guess what? Bread roll and jam with milk coffee. Chris The Yank looked very ill so we asked him if he wanted to come for a beer. He politely refused so Doug 'n' Dave 'n' I headed off to the Canuck consulate so that Doug could get his new passport. After half an hour of looking at crap mags Dave and I got bored so we headed off to the nearest bar to wait for Doug. Took him an hour. Them Canucks aren't quick. Council of War time. It was Dave's birthday and we had to figure out somewhere that:

- was reasonably cheap for booze

- we wouldn't be hassled by curfews

- we could get a decent feed on the cheap

Hmmm. We checked our guide books for cheap doss houses in Geneva with no luck. I opened up my Eurail map and saw something very tempting within a couple of hours train travel.


"Whaddaya reckon boys? Find a cheap pub to crash in and nosh up on some French tucker? The piss there is cheap and we won't have to worry about Fruhstuck Express."

Pretty much sold itself as a concept so we loaded up and headed off to Lyon. Why Lyon? My brother had once told me he'd had great pizza in Lyon and there's lots of cheap dives to hide in if that's your thing.

We decamped at Lyon and did a small piece of food and booze recon before booking into a low dive at extremely cheap rates. The room had two beds. Shit! I'm not sleeping with a drunk Pom or Canuck male. I do have standards despite what you may think. Well, sort of standards plus an overriding fear of latent homosexuality suddenly burgeoning upon me in the form of a pissed Brit or Canadian. We pulled the mattress off one so that there'd be no need to share another bloke's noxious farts or secretions. Then we headed out.

We looked at a couple of cafes and told Dave that it was our treat, his choice and what did he feel like. The 20 year old Englishman decided that pizza was good (what!!!???). He said he didn't fancy frogs legs or snails. We couldn't give a stuff really as it wasn't going to be our last ever chance to nosh up on French cuisine so we went along for the ride. Now, going to a pizza cafe in France may seem pretty weird and on the face of it that is correct. Deep down however there's always a need for pizza and beer. After this I was surprised at the number of pizza joints in La Belle France and couldn't figure it. Pizza. In France. Never mind, I guess its like finding a burger joint in Thailand. We even popped for a couple of half decent vin ordinaires on top of the Kronenburgs we were inhaling at a fast rate. The vino slowed us momentarily and we were well pleased with the pizzas. We took our time, realising that Dave was going home to Preston in a couple of days and this was one of our last hurrahs. Its a fact that when you're overseas and make new friends the experience is more intense. These guys were my new brothers (albeit temporary) and losing one of them did hurt. I mean, who was I going to take the sporting piss out of now? So we got a bit maudlin then ranged in on Doug for losing his passport in Montreux.

"Sure, mate. A hangover gorilla stole it, huh? Or maybe one of those trained monkeys? Yeah, that's aboot right, ay?" in my shocking take of a Canuck accent.

"Suck my cock". Ha! Got him again. I had to remind him of another thing,

"And a passport is far less important than a Fruhstuck Express card, ay?"

"Suck it twice." Ha ha.

We chatted and tried to engage some locals in conversation but our language skills were pretty fucking ordinary when we spoke English, let alone French. At least we tried and the locals appreciated our efforts, even springing for a bottle of bubbles for Dave's birthday.

We got back to our hovel at NFI a.m. and the night porter saw that we were still in the mood for a few beers. So we gave him a few francs and he came back with a box full of Kronenbergs. Top lad. He was originally from Senegal and was cool with our attempts to lure young lasses into our boudoir. Obviously at idiot o'clock in the morning with us looking like brewery refuse we had fuck all chance of romancing anything other than the cockroaches in the kitchen. No birthday sex for Dave.

The next morning we lurched about the environs, scarfing down croque monsieurs for breakfast and feeling like Doug's Gorilla Hangover Theory had been invented only for us. So we basically just hung out in cafe's and parks all day putting shit on each other and reliving past idiocies. We even booked a proper hotel to get a decent kip in the afternoon. That night was a simple cafe meal and not a lot of carousing. It was a funny feeling. No hijinks, just some straight talking and honesty about the fact that being pissheads who'd randomly hooked up we most likely wouldn't keep in touch with each other. We talked, sipped our beers and did our best to untangle a few knots of travel confusion.

The next morning we drank coffee and broke our fasts before farewelling Dave. Bye-bye. It was a bit sad and I never did catch up with him again although we did correspond for a little while, putting shit on each other's cricket teams and keeping up with life events. My guess is that by now he thanks fuck we don't live in the same country.

Doug and I were also parting but we had another RV lined up in The Netherlands in a student town called Nijmegen. Before that happens there's a couple of side trips to tell you about featuring a Swedish lass in France and some friends from Sydney on Il de Batz , or something like that. It was an island in northern France off the coast near Morlaix. Then there's Nijmegen and Namur yet to come.

Oh, and Bedes - I don't know whether we've actually met. Back in the 80's I lived around Rozelle and Balmain in share houses, bonging on and going to gigs. Played Indoor Cricket for our scratch team called "The Hottentots", worked for DSS and generally made an arse of myself. So if you remember a chunky bloke called Nick who fits that description it may be me. In the 90's I moved east and hung around the beaches there, and pubs around Central, Bondi and the inner west. Hopefully I've confused the bejaysus out of you because I reckon that's what this web thing is best at doing. That, porn, footy tipping comps and recounting stories of past deeds. Its good for fuck all else as far as I can tell.

Australian Cricket - Having a Nap or Losing its Nads?

After going through Dr Yobbo's display of cricketing genius and wanting to smash heads since watching the inept display by Australia against the West Indies only to be tortured again by the dullest of dull Aussie performances ever witnessed, I want to put it to cricket lovers that Australian cricket is officially sleepy-byes. Having a nap. Kipping out. Basically they're scared of blokes who think that moisturiser is for girls (Michael Clark), referring to yourself in the third person (Michael Clark) and spending more than the last quarter's balance of trade on hair product (Cameron White, Michael Clark), is all pretty much a giant wank. Michael Clark represents all that is wrong with Australian Cricket. He's only in it for photo ops. His grin is that of a self-annointed Modern Player but below that mask is the visage of a conceit which is wrought in the fabric of narcissism and the meaningless false idolatory of Big Brother contestants. His performance in T-20 matches is abysmal, his will to win a cricket match is weak and his cricket brain is only slightly less feeble than that of his captain. In short, his place in the Australian team is simply a clever piece of marketing and Cricket Australia, the selectors and doe-eyed journos have fallen for a massive con. Meanwhile they've shunted out a winner who likes belting the opposition and having a beer.
It wasn't age which made the likes of Haydos, Gillie, The Greatest Living Cricketer (SK Warne), Langer, McGrath or even SCG Macgill retire. They just saw that the idea of beating up the opposition, getting on the sauce and ripping out some rock anthems was being replaced by soft, routine tactics written by slouch bikers in large print and posted in the opposition's dressing rooms so that they won't be offended by anything surprising or original, decaf soy latte sipping and iPods loaded up with moisturiser jingles. I just hope that Phil Hughes, Dave Warner, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson and their ilk learn the value of cold Crownies being necked in a victorious dressing room in Madras, while an annoying bowler tries to lead them in a crap rendition of "Living On A Prayer" and the physio begs them to stop the spontaneous game of touch footy. The emasculation of Australian cricket is nigh. What was ever the point of standing out in the Australian summer sun for seven hours if it wasn't to drink cold beer afterwards? I'll be fucked if it was to test drive skin moisturisers. Just ask Warnie and Roy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yverdon and Montreux - with picture of Doug

A googled and older Doug. Fuck me, he's looking like an old pensioner! ha ha ha!

The ferry trip across the lake was fine. Nice sunny day, a few settlers to kill off the hangovers and a lot of speculation about the Crazy Belgian. We stopped off on the way to check out a couple of small villages and eventually made it to Yverdon. We already had food and beer so we sauntered along to the hostel and showed the jungendherbergoberfuhrer our Fruhstuck Express (YHA membership) cards and secured a cot for the night. We even took the precaution of memorising bed locations, which room we were in and how far from the front door it was. Doug parked his bicycle somewhere. He was after all, supposedly cycling around Europe.

After checking the place out and having a quick shower we grabbed a few beers and sat outside. A travelling couple from Tasmania came and joined us and were fascinated by the Crazy Belgian, Fruhstuck Express and Doug’s Gorilla Hangover Theory. We ran out of beer so instead of grabbing the emergency six-pack from my pack we headed off to the nearest bar. It was a small and pretty sad looking place with no juke box and nothing in the way of female attractions so we only hung in for a few beers before heading off to the hostel with a couple of “in-flights” (travelling beers) tucked under our arms.

Back at the hostel we cracked open the beers and a bottle of red wine which had been in Doug’s saddle bags and resumed our chat with the Taswegians. When we eventually stumbled into our dorm room the lights were out and we were doing the standard drunk “shhh…quiet” shuffle. That never works and it didn’t this time so I just resumed normal behaviour and proceeded to crash out to much “tsk tsk”- ing from various Teutons trying to get an early kip so they’d be ready for their pre-fruhstuck “Yodel and Hoard Nazi Gold” lessons. Fuck ‘em, they were a boring bunch of titches anyway.

The next morning we got a mess of dark looks and non-speakies from the rest of the dorm crowd which suited us fine. We simply went and demanded our Fruhstucks “mit bacon please” and once again received stale bread rolls and jam with milk coffee.
After we packed up we discussed the future of Doug’s bicycle tour. He was going riding somewhere to try and put a sprinkling of credibility to his Tour de Europe cover story and Dave was off seeing some relatives or something elsewhere in Europe. The three of us had a firm rendezvous in Geneva in a few week’s time. Before that however there was Montreux to be managed and I had a separate RV lined up under the Eiffel Tower with Deb (ex-flatmate), Brian (the bastard who’d nabbed Deb), Mick (he’s a good lad is Mick) and Mick’s cousin, Tim. So Doug and I parted company after arranging to meet in Montreux a few days later.

You’ve all heard of Montreux and the Jazz festival there. I can tell you this much that the main reason we wanted to go there was, well, I dunno really. It just sounded cool at the time.
I’d been flying solo for a couple of days during which I’d managed to recover from my ongoing hangover and find my way to Montreux. I lobbed at Montreux and looked for Doug but he hadn't arrived. I also found that I'd left my Fruhstuck Express Card at the previous night's stop off. Duck me fed if that wasn't one giant hassle with the local Youth Hostel Kommandant. I told the bugger that I'd retrieve it later, just sign me in 'cos I had to meet my Canadian cousin who was mentally feeble and required assistance.

I scoped out the joint, figured that there were enough bars to keep us amused for a couple of days and started checking out a really cute Canadian girl. I then noticed Doug's arrival, bicycle and all. He looked a bit smug and when he learnt of my missing "Fruhstuck Express" he erupted into one of his trademark howls. This brought the attention of the YH Fuhrer who informed me that I would need my card to stay there. He'd seen through my deception. So I sat down and caught up with Doug's doings, all the while ogling the cute Canadian. Bugger it, I went over and said "Hi, you from Montreal?" We chatted for a while and Doug joined in. Then the YH Nazi came over asking me if I was actually staying or did I want a refund. Doug howled again. Bastard. So I loped off to the station and spent the next few hours going back to last night's stop, retrieving my Fruhstuck Express card and returning to Montreux. By this time Doug was weaving all sorts of bullshit and had the lovely Cherrie hooked. Have I mentioned how much of a bastard Doug is? The three of us teamed up with a few Americans and hit the bars. A couple of the American lasses seemed to be intrigued by my accent. Hah! The silly bints were now gonna cop full on Therbs Bullshit with afterburners blazing and lashings of fanciful nonsense, ridiculous Aussie fiction and anything else I could dream up to get over the loss of the beautiful and bumpy Cherrie. Did I mention that Doug's a bastard? Colleen and Anne were the names of these lasses and they were intrigued by whatever it was I pitched at them. It was a combination of truth, exaggeration and utter bullshit but it seemed to amuse them so I just kept at it.

By this stage we'd moved away from the bars and into a park, sipping on various tinctures and enjoying ourselves. I noticed Doug and Cherrie slip away into the night. I did mention Doug was a bastard? He is.

In all of this I hadn't noticed Colleen and Anne saying they were due to catch a train. I then focused and saw that they did in fact have their packs with them and looked all train travelly. I told them they could stay another night, it would be fun. Me, them and the lake at Montreux, we could make our own smoke on the water. Nup, like all U.S. college chicks they were on a strict schedule and had to meet up with Cousin Funkiller somewhjere in Germany the next day. I offered to drive them there. They still wouldn't budge. How I was going to drive them there was another question. Maybe I could find the Crazy Belgian, slot him and take his car. Irrelevant now as we walked through the park to the station, stopping to snog and grope on the way. I got on the train with them and they begged me to go with them. That wasn't really practical so I told them to meet me in Landhsut later that month. Gave them the date, time and everything. Then I sloped off back to the bar and split a few beers with another of the Americans who reassured me I was better off without Colleen and Anne. Easy for him to say, he wasn't getting over the loss of Cherrie to Doug The Bastard.

Doug returned and gleefully told me of his sex-in-the-park-with-Cherrie escapade. When I told him about my new loves jumping on a train in a desparate move to get away from me he once again howled. I should have just hauled off and king hit him but there is the Law of the Brotherhood governing such matters and said Law wouldn't support me landing a right hook on the Canuck's cheekbone.

The next morning we avoided the fruhstucks and pigged out on these ham and egg toasted sandwich type things at a local cafe. Much better. Cherrie was looking particularly sparkly so we spent the rest of the morning hanging around the local pool. Cherrie chose not to wear the top bit of her bikini. After splashing about in the pool for a little while she came back and sat down, looked down at her breasts and muttered, "That always happens when the water's cold." She noticed our eyes tracking her gaze so she confirmed what we were seeing, "That's right boys, erect nipples!" or words to that effect. I couldn't take this, so I scowled and jumped into the pool accompanied by howls of Doug's laughter.

The rest of the day degenerated into bouts of playing park potato, bar hopping and working a group of American college kids into a frenzy of Fruhstuck Express partying. It was a blast. That night we worked on turning Mr Feldschlossen into the Richest Brewer In Europe. Doug and Cherrie spent some alone time again but Doug was a bit circumspect upon his return.
"She's fucking off to Spain tomorrow. We've got that rendezvous with Dave in Geneva which I can't back out of, but its a real zoo, having her go like this." It was my turn to howl with laughter and I slept very well that night, thanks very much.

The following morning we packed up after deciding that without Cherrie being around we may as well do our own things until meeting up in Geneva. We continued sorting out our things and Doug's voiced piped up,
"Oh no!" I turned around to Doug and he had a crestfallen look on his face.
"Some asshole has taken my passport!"
We commenced an immediate search of the dorm and started brow beating all and sundry, asking if anyone had seen anything, like filthy passport thieves for example, during the night. It was hopeless. No result. Fortunately he'd stashed his travellers cheques and rail ticket separately. Keep the valuables separate so you don't get completely cleaned out when the thieves hit. We all worked that theory.
We checked the YH office and the grounds, even went on around the bars we'd frequented and the park and the pool. No luck. Cherrie and I accompanied Doug to the Polizei office so he could get a formal report lodged. We were sympathetic but basically happy it hadn't to us. While we were waiting for the forms to come back, Cherrie asked me if I wanted to go with her to Spain.
"Bloody oath!"
"What about Dave's birthday and our promise to meet up in Geneva?" Doug asked
"Bugger him. I'll send him a card. Better still, I'll fill one out here and you can take it to him. Save on the postage. Thanks mate!"

I was loving this. I had him snookered and enjoyed every agonising moment of his torment. I'd sat by and applauded his loyalty to our plans yet at the first opportunity I cut his lunch, big time. So here he was, passportless, now Cherrie-less and soon to be Therbs-less. It was a delicious revenge for me and man, I worked it like one of those sweet songs you occasionally hear, those ones which grab you by the heart, give your soul a shake and leave you feeling spiritually renewed and blissfully happy. Like "Come on Aussie Come On", Slim Dusty's "Redback on the Toilet Seat" or any song from "Warney, The Musical".

To be continued.