A Travellerspoint blog

Norwegians in fancy dresses, and a really stupid idea

Getting wet in a variety of places, and a routine 41hour journey

all seasons in one day
View TK Cycle - Day 1 & UK - Trondheim - Gbg on Gelli's travel map.

You produced the damned thing, so if it's wrong, it's your fault! It was a lovely wet Monday and we were traipsing around obscure London suburbs in the rain, looking at maps which we had produced and had been published, but very definitely had, erm, occasional technical errors on them. Field work is an important part of my job, and ensuring other people know what they are doing is critical. I have long suspected that for certain colleagues, “field work” consists almost entirely of travelling somewhere and then sitting in a pub for the remainder of the day. And events were more or less bearing that out, as it became blatantly obvious that neither of them had the faintest idea about what the bl**dy heck they were supposed to be doing. As a result, we took in some, erm, interesting parts of the city which we should have gone nowhere near, discovered several missing and wrong issues, and got soaked. Work is fun, isn't it?

None of that is strictly relevant to, well, more or less anything, with the exception that the upshot of choosing those two days to be doing such things in London mean't that I was treated to the kind of journey that is instantly forgettable and irrelevant for most people, but for a non flyer on a schedule becomes the kind of undertaking that would be considered unworkable to anybody else. Thus it was that at 7pm on Tuesday evening, i left London heading for Hell.

Thus, i spent an interesting 3 hours talking to a woman about why a helicopter project had come in so late and over budget (sadly, she didn't know where our submarine was, though), then led a motley group of 8 random folks in sprinting across Hamburg the following morning in a surprisingly not futile attempt to make a connection after we'd been somewhat delayed. I couldn't help but laugh at the poor American getting seasick on the perfectly calm Puttgarden – Rødby ferry, and decided that as i had three hours to kill somewhere, I may as well do it at home (barely 15km off my route) so nipped into the office, had a shower, and left the large map tube I was carrying (HA! No rocket launcher arrest this time), went and sat on Hässleholm for a while before sneaking on to an earlier train than my reservation allowed (nobody noticed, despite the fact i was bleedin' obvious and they had about 5hours to work it out), wandered at random around Stockholm for a couple of hours, then sat bored out of my skull waiting for the second night train of the journey which was over an hour late. Woke up the next morning (it was May 17th) in the middle of a blizzard and with a metre of snow all around me, and, erm, slightly chilly with no prospect of getting anything even vaguely resembling a coffee (or a woolly hat) before rolling past Hell and finally into Trondheim at midday.

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Passing Hell, yet again.

It was Norwegian National Day, and the journey there had consumed over 40hours of my life, and involved 9 trains and a ferry. A 2hour flight would have made much more sense, and been significantly cheaper, but I couldn't help that. It should be obvious by now that I don't always (ever?) take the most logical option.

The Norwegians have long made a big deal about their National Day, but I had never previously managed to be here for it. However, a combination of factors had all fallen into place and I had made the effort. I couldn't help but be impressed by the numbers of people wearing National dress. A good 80%+ of women were fully dolled up in traditional outfits, whilst a similar proportion of the men were in their best suits, which was great to see. They were taking it seriously.
A very happy couple of days followed, catching up with some old friends (include Morten, a Danish guy who I had first met through the old www.landy-rtw.com project and was now living in Norway, as you do, with his stunning Portuguese girlfriend). We wandered around the city, went up to the fort, and explored the Trondheim version of Christiania, Svartlemond, watched a rally in support of poor old Eugene Obiora, a Nigerian killed by police in the Social Security office, got in terrible trouble with the lovely Tina (who probably appears in these annals several times in past locations) for arriving an hour or so late for dinner after getting hopelessly lost (we had got within about 150m before turning around and walking all the way back thinking we had gone wrong), then had a technological mishap which mean't that Brunch was buggered up as well.
Oh, and also got wet, but then again, this is Norway.

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Traditional parade on Norwegian National Day in Trondheim, including the traditional, erm, Chinese dragon

I had made the curious discovery that for some reason, there are no night buses or trains in Norway on a Saturday night (every other night, there are both – If anybody knows why they don't run on a Saturday, please let me know), and th mean't that I witnessed my second large Norwegian fire, as on entering Dombås, it became obvious that the twisting smoke we had seen for several kilometres was not pre planned, and was a major fire in the town (I had arrived in Trondheim just as a large fire by the water front was finally being extinguished after raging through the previous night), a sad state of affairs which seems to be not uncommon in Norway. Trondheim city had suffered at least 6 major fires in the last 10years alone.

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Aftermath of the Trondheim fire (above) and Dombås burning (from a mobile phone on a moving train)

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And all of this simply in order to be able to get to Göteborg early enough on Sunday evening [somewhere I had to be, solely because somebody decided it would be fun to get me bored out of my skull for many hours, the *********s], I was forced to leave to Oslo on Saturday afternoon. On the plus point, i got to meet a couple of cool Couchsurfers, Jeff and Miriam, and also catch up with glorious leader Sam for a few beers, so couldn't complain too much.

But that's the least of my current concerns.

A few months ago, Stefan (who, obviously, is known to everybody as Emil) came up with the idea of a a bike tour across France. It started as a couple of week trip from Paris to Nice, and swifly metamorphosied into a leisurely tour of vineyards. At that point, i was signed up. After all, a couple of hours easy cycling through French countryside in the sun, followed by a few hours wine tasting sounds like a perfectly agreeable time to me.

Somehow, between the time I was signed up and the time we started (in, erm, 2 days time), it had been turned from such a leisurely trip to a 6 day bash from Paris to Cassis (just East of Marseille), involving days of up to 180km, mountain passes, Mt. fricking Ventoux and no less than 13 people, some of whom are customers, and all of whom are much, much fitter than me.

Even meeting Kiki again is currently filling me with less dread. That should speak volumes.

It starts in a week.

Cr*p.

I'm in big trouble now.

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Trondheim

Posted by Gelli 03:26 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Would anybody notice if the Turks & Caicos disappeared?

Who reads this crap, anyway?

The following day, after an absurdly long wait at the border for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I ended up in the less than salubrious mining town of Veles, Macedonia. Not my most favourite of places, but needs must. A couple of meetings with some dodgy as hell looking – and, in fairness, simply dodgy as hell – people later, and it was on to Skopje for a few hours, somewhere i haven't been for several years and had feared the worst for. Astonishingly, I discovered to my delight that the old city is still completely intact and hasn't been demolished in the name of progress, although sadly McDonalds have penetrated the newer part of the city centre. I got locked in the Holiday Inn (I'd nipped in to use a toilet, and somehow got locked into, in the couple of minutes that i was indisposed), escaping only through a fire exit which wasn't quite a alarmed as it probably should have been, went for Cevapicci – Mmmmmm, cevapicci – with the lovely Lily who taking break from panic studying, gazed at the strange “London pub” [since when have London pubs looked like Starbucks? and please don't tell me that it's actually accurate, as I fear that things are possibly heading that way] and watched with indescribable curiosity as two middle aged men took off their shoes, hurled them into the river, watched as they floated down stream until they were out of sight, then walked off bear-footed back into town. A short (not really) and slightly complicated detour through Kosovo into Montenegro – my first since Montenegro has been independent – for reasons that even my blackmailer has agreed are not for public consumption, plus some more great pastries later, I was on my way north on a slow night train full of screaming kids [literally – in a carriage designed for 64, there were, i think 113 of the feckers]. Yay.

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The Christmas tree in central Skopje between the two Christmas's, and a sign on a restaurant door which i can only assume means that handgunbs are allowed?

From there on in, there's not much to say. I had long enough in Belgrade to get to my favourite bakery and stocked up on Piroshka's, passed straight through Croatia to Ljubljana, where I relaxed a bit at the ever the brilliant Miha and Kajta's. I got rid of my final Tolars, and got my first Slovenian Euro coins (thus, barely 15years after being part of communist Yugoslavia, Slovenia became the first communist country to join the Euro), and took a trip on the new funicular, what can only be described as a scar on the face of Ljubljana. Ljubljana castle is on a hill,but it really isn't a big one. A free road train used to go up it. You can drive up. There are a network of paths climbing up from the centre, and you can walk all the way up in only 5 mins. However, for reasons which aren't entirely clear, the Slovenian government decided to spend a somewhat ludicrously large number of tolars (or Euro's, depending when they actually paid up) on removing half the trees from the hill, cutting a number of footpaths on the way up, ending the road train, and scarring the face of the hill on the city side by putting a huge unsympathetic concrete funicular there. It just wasn't needed, although it was the talk of the town (Ljubljana is basically a big friendly village, and things like this cause a big stir) and as it was free for the first week or so, most of the country was trying it out. It's already showing signs of wear in the concrete and it's doubtful if any of them will ever pay the whopping fee to use it normally, meaning that it's shaping up to end up as a white elephant of Millennium dome proportions.

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And from there it was Augsburg, and the inevitable return trip to Sopron (they get worse each time i go there, and this one go rid of all progress from the previous trip, and then some), and then back to the office to be tied to a desk until Easter. In a compartment with somebody I was convinced actually was Meera Syal to begin with, her 4 kids and more luggage than stuff that I own.

Since I've been back, it's been nose on the grindstone stuff stuck in the office, and due to the size of what we're currently panicking about, spending much of my time crawling around on all fours with a small piece of clear plastic and an assortment of pretty coloured pens, looking for mistakes, some of which are not at all obvious, and many of which rely entirely on luck. One such piece of luck was overhearing one colleague saying to another “let's get rid of this Turks & Caicos as I don't know what it is”. After a little discussion, i was able to convince them that Turks & Caicos were worthy of being retained, but I can only wonder which other embassies or countries have been removed here on on other projects out of ignorance or because we didn't get that bit of luck. I was amazed that somebody wouldn't know what the Turks & Caicos were, but I've since had it in my MSN name for a while, and have had a number of enquiries about what they are, or people enquiring who the Caicos were as they've only heard of Turkey. I remain constantly fascinated and amazed by the number of people who haven't even heard of some countries, let alone know where they are on a map or anything about them. But I suppose it keeps me into a job if nothing else!

And here ends the Christmas and New Year (for those whose New Year has already occurred) trilogy plus one [i can't remember what a four parter is actually called, so i'm going, Douglas Adams style, for trilogy plus 1]. It hasn't been half bad, and I think I've managed to pad out complete nothingness enough to make my blackmailer happy, and preclude the need for me to write anything else for some time. I even managed to spend chunks of the whole period thinking. This was kind of unusual to say the least, and oddly informative for me. I think I actually came to some conclusions, although in line with my long standing “I'll give you 12 thoughts a year for free, any more will bl**dy hurt” arrangement I have with my brain, i didn't dwell on it. But, famous last words I know, I have a vague idea that 2007 may be different.

There's some very interesting, different and in cases, down right scary possibilities on the horizon, and I can't wait.

Posted by Gelli 02:47 Comments (0)

Finally: Climbing hills at random again

If you really want to know them, you'll have to read the previous entry, as that's more or less the only way you'll discover the contrived and roundabout way of why I ended up on a beach in Thessaloniki in the pissing rain about 1am for no apparent reason. The term beach might be something of a slight overstatement as well.

Having inevitably been delayed by an hour or so at the border (not my fault) and never having been to Saloniki before, I'd arrived in a rain storm, dashed out of the station somehow found the correct bus stop at about the third attempt and just about jumped onto the last bus of the night. As we careened through the city, it occurred to me that it might have helped to be slightly prepared. It could, for example be useful to have the name of the stop i needed to get off at written in Greek, rather than an English translation – or some knowledge of the Greek alphabet - which naturally didn't appear on the bus stops (actually, Greek names weren't even on all in a place visible to a passenger on a speeding bus in the dark in the rain). I didn't want to head up being turfed off the bus at it's terminus to discovered I was marooned miles - sorry, this is Greece: kilometres - from anywhere, even if the bus was heading for somewhere nice and homely. IKEA. But the usual combination of skill, logic, guesswork, experience and sheer dumb luck meant I even got off at the correct stop. Thus i killed a few minutes gazing out to sea and getting wet, before being met by Kiriaki [owner of the fashionable Women's clothing boutique “Dress-Antistress...” by Mitropoli, for anybody that may be useful to] who has formerly appeared in these tales of whatever as the mad Greek shopping girl from Bangkok. At that point, my day got immeasurably better (well, actually, it was well into the next day, but who's counting?) as we took the short trip back to the bar she'd just nipped out from and in the company of 4 lovely Greek girls, had a few drinks.

I'd come to Saloniki more or less by accident as an afterthought. Having decided not to stick around Bucharesti after New Years and with a prior appointment in Macedonia a couple of days later, I had decided to break the journey somewhere - I love Beograd but get to go to fairly frequently anyway so I'd decided against it. Istanbul was too far out of the way to make sense, my friends from Timisoara were away, Sofia held no appeal for an unnecessary stay and Plovdiv didn't help logistically. So I'd looked into Salonki due to the dearth of alternatives as much as anything else. I've not been to Greece for a number of years and have never spent much time there, and had only ever passed through Saloniki a couple of times by train, so it certainly had an appeal. Cheap accom looked tricky however, even after putting out some feelers. I only finally decided to head there when, somewhat sheepishly, three days after I'd started pondering this vaguely seriously it occurred to me that I actually know somebody from and living there. I can be a bl**dy idiot sometimes!

Sadly, I only had a day there (I'd lost an entire afternoon in the “why the feck didn't we stop in Sofia as supposed to” farce), but it was enough to get a feel for the place at least. The centre is surprisingly compact, user friendly-ish (if you get lost, just head downhill), pleasingly chaotic, and interspersed in the normal Greek way with large sites of remains and ruins. I spent the morning wandering around the central core and markets, before meeting up with a friend of Kiriaki's, Ismini and a few of her friends for a great Greek lunch in a locals place down an alleyway on the hill. I couldn't have planned it any better. If nothing else, this is a country with Bakeries full of exotic pastries on every corner (i love it!) and which eats lunch at the same time as me (2-3ish, none of this crazy Scandinavian 11am lunch cr*p). Even better, Ismini's friends included Antonos, a renowned Cretian reggae saxophonist. Lets face it: Just how many Cretian Jazz saxophonists have you met?!

After a good 3hour or so lunch, people dissipated in their own directions, and i went up. Saloniki is a city on a hill, and basically a huge maze of alleyways, cut throughs, and unexpected sights. You really have no idea what's around the next corner, and there are many many corners. It's reminiscent partly of Dubrovnik [not the fort bit] and partly of Napoli, and the kind of place i love. I had probably been wandering for about 45mins when i realised that I was at one with the world and perfectly contented. The big trip notwithstanding, I don't get to go to many “new” places these days, especially in Europe (because there aren't many new places, rather than the fact i don't see much of Europe). And here I was, walking randomly through alleyways of a city I've never been to before, knowing not where I was going or even where there was to go or not, with no goals or purposes except vaguely to keep going uphill (avid blog readers – they have another name: gluttons for punishment – may remember my love for, and periodic hill climbing phases of my trip) whilst listening to local radio (another passion) in the dusk and early evening.

I haven't been as happy in a long while.

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A fairly dodgy and unexciting picture of an excellent city view

After a while i reached the old city walls and had a bit of an explore, before reaching my summit at the old prison/fort way up top. The last of daylight was well gone, and I spent a while sitting in the freezing wind on a prison wall, looking out over the lights of Saloniki. Absolutely great stuff. After a while, I reluctantly decided to get out of the wind and return to the city, spending another contented half hour or so doing nothing except picking random (mostly) downhill leading alleyways. Entirely undeliberately and in a way that i could never replicate or even find again, I even passed right by the same restaurant that we had lunched in earlier.

That evening i took a long walk out to Moni Lazariston (stunningly, I even found it without having more than a very vague idea of which part of the city it was in, and none about how to get there) where i spent a pleasant evening drinking cocktails and wonderfully large measures of whisky [Greece is great for spirit measures] with Kiriaki, the barman and two female Bulgarian high court judges – connections like this are always useful to make - and celebrating the imminent wedding of our friends Sam and Desh in Thailand (I had met Kiriaki originally through them).

We've since heard that despite the 7am start, it all went brilliantly, so I'll end here with a quick congratulation note to Sam & Desh verylongsurname, and wishes for a long, happy and successful marriage.

Posted by Gelli 02:45 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Trains must stop at stations, not pass through, to be useful

How I ended up on a beach on Greece in the rain at 1am and other stories

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And so it was that I left Bucharesti, and Romania, with the same number of wallets that I arrived with and without a single unintended dog bite, a much healthier state of affairs than my previous exit. Sadly, the EU means freedom of movement, and thus, less than 24hours after it came in to being, I left Romania without any drama at all and without gaining another passport stamping, and arrived in Bulgaria with even less effort. The train was mostly empty, so I settled down to catch up on my sleep on the way to Sofia. I'm not a heavy sleeper, and thus was awake and slightly intrigued that everybody else in the carriage (baring my cabin companion) left the train at a random station about an hour before Sofia.

I was then even more intrigued when i watched us roll up to, into, and then straight through Sofia station, headed a few km past it to a train yard, got shunted around a few times, went through a shed for no obvious reason and then the train wash (luckily i twigged what was happening quick enough to close all windows as much as possible and didn't get too wet), before coming to a halt in a set of sidings with a number of other trains. The engine stopped, the power went off, and after waking the still soundly sleeping Croat Tomislav, pondered the situation. A few heads leaning out of windows along the train told us we weren't the only ones, but the undeniable fact was that we were locked in a train carriage in some random sidings somewhere in Bulgaria. With little chance of being discovered until the train was next used. Ah great. After a little reality check, taking stock of things, convincing ourselves that (a) we weren't in fact dreaming, and (b) Kiki could in no way have engineered this, we made plans for a daring escape, unlike anything even conceived since, well, whenever the last daring escape was conceived.

Thus it was, that if you had happened to have been a train cleaner that cold, crisp, hungover morning in Sofia, you might have possibly seen two strange foreign guys lower their bags out of a train window, then with slightly less dignity than perhaps was required, clamber out of the window and fall in a heap to the ground. Whilst not necessarily a perfect gymnasts dismount, and definitely lacking in technical excellence, it did fulfil our primary requirements of getting out of the train and onto solid land without getting electrocuted on the overhead wires,or loosing a leg to a passing train, which to me seems a more than acceptable trade-off. After a high tech logic based discussion (we flipped a coin) we then made our way towards one end of the train in the hope that we could work out where the hell we were and how the heck to get out of here. We watched in amazement as a guy of 80 or so who had obviously done this before, vaulted perfectly out of a window a few carriages down, collect the dog and luggage lowered by his wife, then help her down, then limped off, before ducking under a slowly moving train!

Eventually we found a Ukrainian provodnik, who seemed as bemused to see us as we were to find her (Tomislav wondered if we'd somehow ended up in Ukraine by mistake, although I've been to Sofia enough times to have recognised the station as we rolled through it), mostly drunk, and also slightly surprised by the two non Bulgarian foreigners in front of her. But she had at least been here before and in a combination of languages, the 3 of us managed to work out the situation to our satisfaction. Thus, after a bit of a wander, a fall down a big hole, a clamber over a bridge and the stuff under the bridge, naturally) and crossing 8 lines plus some more sidings, we found a tram stop. Using my in-depth knowledge of the Bulgarian language and Sofia's layout, we jumped on the first tram in any direction and hey presto, 3 stops later arrived at the main Railway Station entirely as planned. Slightly muddier and about 2hours later than envisaged, this is true, but that couldn't be helped.

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Gangsta Shit Hip Hop...?

Anyhow, that long winded is drag is basically the reason why I ended up spending a day in Sofia, as the whole episode had had the inevitable consequence that my 30min connection window had long since passed, and my Thessaloniki train well on it's way (i assume) to Thessaloniki. Naturally the next one was 12hours later, leaving me with nothing to do at all except walk at random around Sofia, a pleasant place, but one of the least exciting capital cities I know of, on the 2nd of Jan with most things still closed to boot.

I can confirm that it was indeed as noteworthy as it sounds, although there was still enough snow around, lots of drunk people trying to show off on the free outdoor ice-rink [i REALLY need to invest in a video camera], the same dodgy money changer who accosts me every time trying to change every currency known to man, and then watching an underpass slowly catch fire and send noxious fumes into the sky.

Still, you have to kill time somehow.

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Posted by Gelli 10:57 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

What? No dog bite?

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Thus it occurred to me, with, admittedly a little nudging (alright, alright) that despite the fact that it's the middle of Feb - feck me, how did that happen? - already, I still haven't shared my thoughts and movements from the New Year. In fairness, i had no intention of doing so, mostly because it was entirely without incident and will thus be boring as hell. But I have had the alleged error of my ways shown to me, and thus this is the result. It's a whopping 4 parter of sheer, unadulterated boredem.

I'll try all i can to dress this up and make it exciting but in fairness, if you want some excitement or enjoyment I'd strongly recommend doing a shot of heroin before you continue.

Hopefully you enjoyed that hit and now have a nice happy buzz feeling. Yes? Good. Without further a do, on with the drudgery. I spent a contented Christmas, in the office during the day getting stuff done without distractions, interspersed with out in the middle of nowhere

With a certain unexpected surprise, i managed not to kill the cats (although I was treated to an amazing performance of pest control by one, who in a 45minute spell managed to catch 6mice inside the house. It was a truly awesome display), burn down the house or write off the boss's car. Passed over the keys. Left work on time, had no complications at the hospital, made it to Kb on time, and an uneventful trip to Hamburg. Yup, that's right. In a twist you almost certainly wouldn't have predicted, I actually got away for New Years almost entirely as hoped. Scary, eh?

Things took a slight turn on the way to Wien with a strange Nigerian woman and my mobile phone, but no biggie. With time to spare, i even managed to make the almost inevitable pass through Sopron to deal with the guys there – even making progress, which for those that have any idea what the heck I'm talking about, will probably need to re-read that a dozen times or so, and will still think they are seeing things - and that was me finished for 2006. A quick nip into Budapest, bit of a wander in the cold, and then on to the night train. I wasn't even detained for long at the border, with it taking a mere 40minutes for them to be convinced that I wasn't a potential whatever it was they thought i was a potential threat for this time. I forget, although it could have been security issues. But with that, and only 25hours before joining the EU, I was given what will probably turn out to be my last ever Romanian passport stamp, and with that was on the way to Bucharesti.

For those that have enquired, No, we never did find the submarine.

I'm still looking though.

Ah Bucharesti. The sounds, the sights, the smells. I really love this city, I do. I spent a happy day wandering at random around the city, being chased by salivating (and in one case, 3 legged) dogs, trying to avoid being mowed down by crazed taxi drivers or stepping in dog sh1t, being stopped by police for looking shifty or fall down big holes in the roads and pavements, whilst catching up with a couple of acquiantances and visiting some favoured spots.

And then it was time for the main event. New Years in Romania are normally mad anyway, but this was a special one: Romania were joining the EU, and the Romanians were celebrating, and it was this reason why I had been planning to head to Bucharesti for New Year for a while. A few drinks in the hostel later, and a group of us had formed, and so 4 European based Americans, 3 German based Chilean girls [who I christened Esteban, Pablo and Carlos, for reasons which now elude me. It also explains why I became Lucretia, although that's a whole different story], 2 Austrian guys and – no, not a partridge in a pear tree – a Brit and an Italian, using a strange mix of Spanglish, Swedish [one of the Americans is studying here, and one of the Austrians was half Swedish] and German headed out to join ½ of the population on Bucharesti on the metro, before meeting the rest of them at the central University place.

It was actually really good fun. Enough enterprising locals were selling cans of beer and bottles of champagne to keep us constantly refreshed, the mood was great, and the government rolled out assorted dignitaries and foreign guests (drunk ambassadors, generally), big screen video displays and assorted fireworks and lazer shows, plus much music and warbling in Romanian. We cheered when everybody else did and drank the rest of the time. After an oddly quiet midnight – no actual countdown, or even proper countdown clock – one of the Austrians produced a box of cigars and we smoke and cheersed to the arriving Romanians.

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Then it was a simple case of enjoying the next few hours. We wandered the central area around the live stages whilst drinking silly numbers of bottles of champagne and indulging greatly in the long held Romanian celebration of smashing empty bottles onto the street – literally walking over broken glass adds a certain extra spice to walking - and which the American girl showed a stunningly skilled ineptitude for, by managing to get the first dozen or so attempts to bounce...

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With any large group of people in a large mostly drunk crowd, casualties are inevitable thus it was no surprise that shortly after somehow bumping into the only other person in the city that we all knew, we lost one (collateral damage – one Austrian, who after loosing us managed to also get his camera stolen). It's also mostly inevitable that at some point, authorities will be involved, and so it proved when the same American had by now brilliantly gotten the knack of bottle smashing, which after a good successful run was discovered to be to the distress of certain members of the police, (although she managed to avoid trouble by pretending to only speak Spanish). At the urging of the Italian, we then walked in a strange and illogical loop in the “cold” for a while in order to try and find somewhere we could get into, and then a club he'd previously been to. On New Years morning, this was never likely to end in success, at least not at an affordable price. And so it proved. By 4am or so, and with half the group supposed to be on trains out of the city within a few hours, we decided to call it quits and head back.

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(apologies for poor photos, my camera is now officially kaput, and i was using a dodgy phone camera)

A slight problem which had been mutually discovered earlier was that I was the only one who had the slightest idea where the heck we were, and where we needed to get back to. No great problem for me, I must admit. Until we finally gave up trying to get into the last club, and started to head back. I then performed the cunning trick of walking about 25metres, turning right and a 100m or so down the road, before turning around to discover that I was the only one there.

Now, i still struggle to understand how this is possible, but if 10 people are following one person, it shouldn't be possible for everybody else to have lost that person within the first 200m. Maybe loose somebody else, sure, but the guy that knows where's he's going? That's just plain careless. This isn't the first time that it's happened either. A few years back, I managed the not unimpressive trick of loosing an entire TT pissup group who were also supposed to be following me. And there have probably been other occassions as well. I don't actually know how the heck I do it, but it's a fairly impressive skill. I periodically wish that I wasn't always too stupid to take advantage of these things. I should have just said “sod it”, gone for a beer, and then headed home. Instead, after laughing for a minute, i headed back to try and find them. But of course, they'd taken a turn of their own and were nowhere to be found. It took a good 25mins, and apparently some panicking on their behalf before I managed to find them again. Ah well. Thus it was that we began the long trek home, hampered slightly by the fact that whilst I knew a way back, it wasn't the shortest way back (and with 10 folks being led pied piper style, it wasn't the time to guess).

It was only ¾ of the way back when we stopped for swift pint (read: one the Americans fell asleep) that the Italian suddenly remembered , and produced a map before starting to complain we were going a long way round. Why me?

New Years resolutions are an interesting concept. Everybody puts great store in them, yet probably 80% of them don't last a week, and most of the rest not more than a month. Many of them don't last simply because they get rid of the fun stuff – no more drinking, smoking, pizzas or whatever – which is bound to end in failure sooner or later. I don't do that kind of resolution. Thus, Six weeks or so into 2007, and I'm proud to announce that I'm still on target with all of mine. Admittedly that shouldn't be too hard, but I've never actually managed it yet. I've got a new one, although that's not yet for public consumption, and i won't know if I've fully keep it or not until the end of the year. But, i've naturally also gone with the same trio as I normal do – I resolve that in 2007, I won't get arrested, shot at or deported. Easy, right? Well, I can't remember how long I've had the same resolution – 10 years at a guess? - but I've not yet managed it. Actually, I've never even managed to keep two thirds of it.

This year will be different.

It really will.

Honest.

Please?

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Posted by Gelli 10:55 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

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