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February 09, 2005

Random trips abroad are what your life is all about! Part I of ????

Twer jus t'tother week, right before our first lectures of the first friday morning were about to start when I found myself in possesion of that wondrous commodity (dont know if it can be described as that, but it is to me….... ) that is The Passport, it was in the pocket of my all-purpose carry-a-lot coat which I had forgotten to take out of my pocket since coming back to uni. I'd best put this in a safe place I'm not going to use this any time soon I said to myself, or so I thought! What had actually happened is my loud northern inner voice had spurted out of my head in an uncontrollable blast, through my mouth and into the ears of my good friend Josh. There was even a reply; he said, 'Why not?' Hmmm….....!! Cogs were turning in both of our heads. Why couldn't we use it? Right now, in fact?
"France?" I said
"Calais?" he said
"What about lectures?" I asked
"Good point, but do we really need to go?"
After about half a second of just smiling at each other in a stupid wide-eyed way, we shook hands and forgot about my last silly comment, we were off a la France!!

Off we went, running to the car. Soon after we were at home, piling clothes and food into bags. A short 3 hour-ish drive later, we were in Dover with the car parked and ourselves booked on the next ferry!

A bloody long wait came because of the bad weather. Gale-force winds were battering the channel and half of the country as well. Which of course made for a fun trip across on the ferry! We first had a look around the big shiny ferry (I have a thing for Big Shiny Things, they're so very distracting; see profile) and got our money changed. After a short walk on deck and getting blown around a fair bit, we decided we should go settle by a bar or something, we were after all on holiday. Of course thats easier said than done on a ship that was now in the middle of the Channel and swaying and rocking in a vomit-inducing way that isnt usually a good mix with alcohol. But off we went anyway and found ourselves a lovely spot on some large comfortable sofas, where we proceeded to get pissed! A good many bottles of Carlsberg later we were engrossed in some ale-fuelled interesting chat or other when suddenly we became aware that the ship had stopped trying to make us regurgitate our precious alcohol, and the other people on the ship had all upped and got out of the bar. Was our conversation so brilliant and profound that we had failed to notice that water was quickly gathering around our ankles, and we were close to dying in a sinking ship? Had we missed repeated calls to abandon ship? Thankfully not. It seems we had just docked at Calais.

For all we knew Calais centre-ville could be miles away, I seem to remember it was from the last time, though to be honest that was when I was about 10. So we decided to sneak a lift on some ski-train bus connection thingy. Our lack of skis and luggage didnt seem to bother the driver, so off we went to Calais train station. Unfortunately we had been dropped at the far end of the platform that they had decided to shut that night, so we decided to run across the railway tracks and hope that the French hadn't learnt how to use CCTV yet, or that they at least didnt use it here. Thankfully no-one really noticed our short-cut, and so we had arrived in the centre of the town. We soon came across the Holiday-Inn, which my dad had recommended as being cheap. The eejit was wrong, it turned out to be rather expensive. I had thought that this would be a nice low-budget trip. I am a poor student after all. Josh, however, had other ideas, even though he is in much more debt than me. Before I could politely decline the room we had been offered for 123EUR, Josh had decided he liked the look of the place, and already had the money down on the table. BASTARD!! (I was thinking, I didn't actually say it, he is a good friend after all). He ended up paying the majority. We had started as he meant to go on. As though the bank can always fund the rest of my year, my food, my bills, my drinking habit, my gambling addiction et al. And you know what, it probably can. At least as long as I'm a student, anyway.

Continuing in the high spending theme, after dropping off our stuff in the (rather nice) room, we went for a meal in the restaurant just around the corner from the hotel. Some beautiful French wine and some gorgeous steaks later, we were pissed. Josh left a rather generous tip, even more than his usual generous self in fact, and then we were off down the high-street on a quest to find somewhere to drink. Now I don't know if you have ever been to Calais, but if you have, then I'm sure you have noticed that there are a lot of cafe-bars there. We headed for the one with the biggest, shiniest sign! I have no idea what it was called, but we started on the Leffe beer. This stuff is deadly. Its 6.6% but it goes down like lemonade, its just sooo sweet and tasty. A few pints later we staggered on to the next place, and the next, and possibly another one. We went as far as the station, as far as I recall. By this time we were enjoying some very in-depth very drunken chats. They were mostly rants about the world, but I also learnt a lot about my friend, even though I had known him for over a year. About 2ish (maybe??) as far as we could remember we started heading back up the street toward our hotel, though not of course before returning to our favourite places we had already visited on the way down! We decided to call it a day after we were nearly refused a drink in some place for being too drunk. We managed to get served there only after pleading with the manager, possibly in French, for another small drink, which we think we ended up leaving most of anyway. The walk back was a mystery. Neither of us could remember it, it may have been via Dunkerque, but I couldn't really tell you. Apparently we took some photos when we got back, sufficed to say I look wrecked on them. (see gallery)

Now I'm not the type of person who normally wakes up with a hangover, even after the heaviest nights of drinking. That morning was a great exception! I felt like shit, with a banging headache and with a mouth like the bottom of a canary cage. To make matters worse we woke up about half an hour before kicking-out time, so we had no time to recover, trying to get out of bed to get a shower was hell. Even though I felt bad, Josh was apparently worse. He'd been sick all through the night, though I was so dead to the world I was never going to wake up to it. Violently it seemed too, as even a good aim of piss from me couldnt dislodge any of the black tarry crap from the toilet bowl. It stunk like hell as well!!

Just before kick-out time we managed to get out of the hotel, and into the windy streets of Calais. We wandered down the street, both still quite drunk, though the gales did sober us up a bit. We wandered down through the market as well. The smell of the fish didn't do either of us much good, so we left that place pretty sharp-ish. A few minutes later we decided we should head off to do what our original idea was, to go on an ale run.

A short bus ride later, we were in the massive shopping-centre that is the Cite-Europe. Its a massive complex with all sorts of massive shops, from bakeries to boutiques, its all in there. We headed straight for the Tesco Vin Plus. Normally this would be a wonderful place where I would gleefully spend hours carefully choosing a whole load of beer, wine and spirits from their wonderfully large selection. As it was, I weren't in the most perfect of states for walking around a shop filled with this mornings tormentor. My plan was to to and buy a token amount of wine and port, but for god-sake, keep away from the beer, for it is clearly a drink the devil himself invented! Especially that Leffe stuff! After a short walk around, Josh decided that one of each bottle of port available, and 6 bottles of Southern Comfort would be adequate souvenirs of the trip. I just dragged a few bottles of wine I noticed had interesting (shiny, even) labels off of the shelves, along with a bottle of port. We went past the mountains of beer, and I tried not to look. I spent £25, Josh about £250. Like I said, to him it's the banks money, and its not like you have to pay it back any time in the next million years.

After Tesco's, we each went for a tour around the hypermarket. These places are brilliiant. I absolutely love the choice of fresh food you can get from there. By this time I was rather hungry, so I got myself a few baguettes and some ham, butter, plus a succulent steak. I had breakfast in McDonald's, Josh had only a panini, I think he was still feeling delicate. Before I ate my stomache ached, I gambled that it was hunger and not hangover. Thankfully, the food stayed down. Josh had one more attack of the spending bug, when he bought himself an ornamental samurai sword, a very nice one too.

We left soon after for the ferry port in a taxi. We boarded the ship and found another comfortable spot similar to the one we had on the way there, though this time there was no chance either of us would be drinking. This time the motion of the quiet boat rocked us both to sleep, and to the end of our First Fantastic Voyage.

More to Follow!!!! (London & Amsterdam)


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  • Like the Calais story, this is another well told tale of adventure. It is definitely more interestin… by Loopy on this entry
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