March came along and it was time to visit home. My best friends were getting married, in Austria, and I could not wait to reunite with everybody to celebrate.
I don’t really know how this post is going to turn out but it will be steered vaguely in the direction of spending all my money on toll roads, drinking beer with a jaegerbomb chaser and me throwing an inflatable penis around. But I’ll try and keep it PG.
We start at the Hen Do for the (at the time) soon-to-be Katie Anderson. In a beautiful country house with all of my best friends.
We laughed and cried and did everything in between, including Cora’s fantastic Ms Turner and Fish Market Seller impressions. (theres a job for you on Morrisons fish counter always I’m sure) “Get ya scollops ya squid ya cod ‘n’ ‘addock all on offer”. An event would not be the same without you.
(Also WHO!? was drinking Fosters. Can’t they see it was a sophisticated affair?)
In order to get to Austria, me and hedd had decided we would cruise along the pretty European roads taking in sights that we have never seen before. Naivly, I thought it would be a lot easier and cheaper than it was. We paid a lot for road tolls. Like a lot. We stayed in some questionable accomodation (take it from us you never want to visit Bergamot. Or stay in a rare find on Air BnB). I crashed the car. I did so many U turns I lost count. I hate Italian drivers. I scared Hedd. Actually I don’t like Italy any more. Or cars.
We started in London, on the train to Lille, where we would pick up our car. But we picked the car up and, as we
screamed our way navigated around a one way system to get out of the city and on to the French motorways, we set off in a vague direction and headed for our first overnight, in the Champagne region of France, Reims.
We were surrounded by beautiful french villages in countryside and champagne factories. We enjoyed some fantastique French fromage with bread and jambon (Madame VieulleJambon) This really is all me and Hedd eat when in each others company.
Then it was on to our next overnight in Bonne, Switzerland. Well, we thought it was Switzerland but it was actually France again. We only realised the next morning that Bonne is actually in France. But this was a beautiful chalet on the hills with superb views of the mountains. We had the fire roaring and got an early night. Nobody reading this is ever going to need accomodation near Geneva, but if you do, this is the place to stay.
The next morning we collected my Aunt and Uncle from Geneva Airport and headed to Courchevel. It was so nice to be able to see them during my trip back and we enjoyed a brief but memorable time together.
We managed to get a day skiing in too, which went down a treat! We are so grateful of the effort they made for us both. After saying our goodbyes and taking two bags full of vintage ski wear in the car, we hit the road for our drive through northern Italy. For love nor money we couldn’t work out what mountain was Mont Blanc. All I know is we took the car through the tunnel beneath Mont Blanc.
I don’t understand the road rules in Italy. The speed limit says 130 km/h so everybody drives at 160. If you do 130 you get pipped at. If you do 160, I found out you’re red lining a Vauxhall Corsa. You overtake wherever there’s a gap. The left lane. The right lane. The pavement. Your nan’s driveway. Anywhere. A red light is only meant to be observed, not used as a traffic management tool.
And then… Bergamo.
We stayed in a ‘rare find’ Air BnB. I’m certain it’s a rare find because nobody would ever be able to find the place. I crashed the rental car trying to get a 5 ft wide car through a 3 ft wide gap. And then for good measure the Air BnB had a security pigeon outside. Seriously, the pigeon didn’t budge. Neither of us slept but it was fine, because it was time to head for Zauchensee to join up with the others!
Zauchensee is a very pretty, picturesque ski town high up in the mountains – for just how pretty see this instagram account – Karen and Nigel also have wonderful accomodation and the *most* amazing dog, Ben.
The week itself was simply amazing. Lots of skiing. Lots of hangovers. Loads of laughter. Loads of singing in the sauna (Tom, great renditions of The Greatest Showman). The wedding day itself was even more spectacular. I think my tears froze to my cheeks. But I was too drunk to be certain. The ceremony was at the top of the mountain and we all had to get chairlifts up. We couldn’t see anything on the chairlift up and I don’t really remember the chairlift down. That kind of the set the tone for the rest of the day for me. If I didn’t have a glass of wine in my hand, I had a bottle topping up somebody elses. If you want the tone of your wedding bring down – I really am your guy, as proven here in 2016 & 2017. Taking bookings now.
The wedding night ended in a club in the village and me sustaining significant injuries from not being able to stand on the ice.
The hangover the next day was something else. I think everyone was suffering, so I’ll brush past the self pity. Sobriety came about 7pm that evening.
We did more days skiing and on the final day, said our good byes and left our well wishes with Mr Schneider and set off for Germany. A quick stop in our 1.2 Corsa at the Nurbergring proved terrible for my masculinity.
Our Airbnb, just outside Frankfurt, was an actual gem (well done Hedd). The couple who owned it thought me and Hedd were a couple too. Because neither of us speak German, we just went along with it. Plenty of French and Spanish between us. But no German. No security pigeon at this one though, so only 4 stars.
We then moved onwards to pretty little Luxembourg. I tried to use some black toothpaste to buff out the scratch on the car and, to my surprise, it didn’t work. What was I thinking? If charcoal toothpaste worked to get metal-deep scratches out of car wings, they’d sell it in any motor parts store.
(Me attempting to buff out the scratch with said toothpaste that obviously didn’t work)
That night we stayed in a hotel, that I had picked. So naturally, there were issues. The most immediate was the pillows. It was like they were made out of golf balls, all lumpy and bumpy. Now I don’t claim to be a pillow expert, but I don’t see this catching on.
Our final overnight was in Brussels. We booked accomodation with parking because it’s a European city. We arrived to find that there was no parking. Well, the lady said there is parking, but they didn’t have any. It’s the first mobile car park I’ve ever heard of. Another idea I don’t see catching on. By this point I wouldn’t have minded someone just stealing the car anyway, the Eurostar goes to home from Brussels and it would have made life a lot easier. And I wouldn’t have had to go back to Lille. Or fill up the car again. Or pay another toll fee. Win win.
We headed back toward Lille, through northern France. To my astonishment, Lille was still grey and dull and tired. As we waited for the train, we joked about how driving through Europe meant we did not have to wait around in an airport. The reality was that we were in a train station for 6 hours with nothing to do except eat an over priced burger and look for snails in Carrefour. We also discussed how driving would be more stress free than flying. But then I crashed. An how driving would be prettier than flying. But then we went to Bergamo. We even pondered how driving would be safer than flying. But then we drove in Italy.
(Wi’ lads like)
Jokes aside it really was a fantastic trip and realy hard work. If you’re thinking of driving across Europe, just be prepared for the toll roads. And avoid Bergamo.
And to Katie and Lee, thank you for letting me be a part of your wonderful day. I wish you an entire lifetime of happiness together.
Reims (Champage Region)
Bonne (in Switzerland, France)
Bergamo (price includes maze to entrance and security pigeon)
Brussels (parking included but not included)
Luxembourg (BYO pillow)