I spent my last few weeks in London working at EMI Records. Amongst other things, this involved greatly building on my CD collection; picking up ‘choice’ Kiwi slang from colleagues….ay bro; driving a van around London solving mysteries/moving stuff; playing pool and/or table tennis and/or indoor cricket; discussing the pitfalls of being South African; and stalking Joss Stone when she visited.
Once that job finished, I was officially Credit Crunched (sounds glamorous I know). So rather than use my savings to stay afloat in London, I jumped on a bus, and landed in…
The overnight bus is hell on wheels, but it did secure another night of accommodation for me. With cramping in my neck and a lengthy session of rusty pins and needles, it qualified in my ‘Top 10 Worse Nights of Sleep’m, probably slotting in at 4, right after the ‘Great Sleep in the Random Volvo' of 2002.
I was joined in Amsterdam by my friends Junior, Rachael and Emily, and we did all the usual tourist stuff, riding bikes around parks, paddling around the canals, chilling in coffee shops, eating pancakes and chips, *cough*goingtoasexshow*cough*.....umm....oh! After a few drinks, and some dodgy (make that pitiful) karaoke from Junior, we decided to go check out the obligatory show for a laugh.
All of us were seconded onto the stage at various times, prior to “the couples show”. Then we were confronted with an Asian man (Hung Lo), wearing nothing but leather boots, having his way with a girl who appeared to lack a pulse. He did his ‘thrusting’ with hands placed on his hips; except for when he clicked and pointed “shotgun Pete” style at us (we had front row seats of course). He possibly winked at us as well; I didn’t notice…I was still getting over having to eat that banana on stage on the previous set.
The 12 hour bus ride to Berlin ranked in at Number 1, in my ‘Top 10 Worse Nights of Sleep’ ever, pushing the ‘Great Brunswick Street Oval Grandstand Sleep' of 2006 down to second. What better way to be welcomed in Germany, than by seeing two Mercedes Benz collide…that be a GOAL!
Berlin is a favourite city of mine. It is a relaxed, everyone is friendly, it has a young population, and it has a sensational nightlife.
It is a city of great culture, none greater than in my own hostel room. Let me familiarise you with the characters I shared a room with for two days…introducing:
- Claude, from France. He was a mannequin in the room for several hours. Then (by the power of German Beer), with great passion and much animation (and in very broken English), he suddenly decided to discuss the delights of Robot Sex. He even illustrated his arguments with physically demonstrations, showing how it (whatever ‘it’ is) works
- Marcel, a Brazilian, then entered the conversation to proudly boast that he lost his virginity to a hooker, and he was very much looking forward to Thailand, where they are $5. He then proceeded to show us some pictures on Facebook of some of these hookers. His next destination was Amsterdam….beware of the leather boots of Hung Lo, my friend…
- Antonio, an American. He is a San Diego TV reporter and backup news anchor. Yep, he delivers news to millions of people (I requested video evidence as proof of course). Yet amazingly, as well as struggling to string a sentence together, my Kiwi room-mates had to explain to him what and where New Zealand was. Mal Walden would be turning in his grave...if they hadn't cryogenically frozen him so he'd keep reading the news. And just in case you are wondering, News Anchors DO wear pants when reading the news…you heard it first!
- Salvatore, an Italian, who, the next day when I walked in, was playing trumpet full blast hanging out the window whilst concurrently playing the ukulele in pinstripe pyjamas…including the hat with tassel.
Put all these gentlemen on a couch, and you’d be in a wealthy Psychiatrist.
Other highlights included a quick trip to Dresden, where an old lady coughed into my bratwurst whilst making me a hotdog, we somehow ending up at a German house party, where we were surrounded by randoms practising English on us, and being begged by gypsies, punks (sex pistol style) and old accordion playing ladies with no teeth.
I managed to sleep on this bus to Krakow, resulting in almost missing my change of coach. This would have left me stranded and getting grilled at the Russian border…lucky the driver remembered me and stopped a few minutes after we had left to wake me!
Poland is place very much stuck in the nineties. Apart from Peter Andre and Celine Dion dominating the airwaves, the 'undercut' still has a place in hair fashion, and double-denim is everywhere you look. There is also the ‘couple’s denim’, which involves a Mens and Ladies version of the same outfit, for them to wear together concurrently. This seems to be an alternative to them having to wear a wedding ring; I can imagine getting on one knee to be a lot more complex here…
Ambulances whizz by sounding like there is a man inside playing a slide whistle for a siren, and rollerblading is very popular, even though no one seems to possess balance…getting caught in the tram tracks seems to be the signature move, kind of like watching an insect get caught in a web.
And bribing the parking inspector seems the norm, although having seen one man give an inspector the equivalent of $60; I am not too sure whether the bribe was that dissimilar to the fine…
By far the most important and moving thing so far on this trip, has been going to Auschwitz. Despite the hordes of tourist and school groups, there remains an eerie silence about the place. Not even the birds sing in the trees. Clear blue skies, and the sun shining, probably didn’t create the right effect, and why people insisted on getting their pictures in the gas chamber or next to the ‘human ovens’ is beyond me, but morons aside, it certainly puts things in perspective..
Well the travels continue into Austria, now if you don’t mind, I am off for coffee and apple strudel…choice bro!