THE LIFE OF RILEY Don't live it. Read about it.
Sent Friday 2 August 2002 from London/Edinburgh
All righty! I’ve just this minute returned from quite an ordeal on London’s modern, cheap and efficient underground train system - the Tube - an example to public transport and town planners everywhere. On my way through London to my particular destination (which I’m afraid you will NEVER find out about) I was halted by a member of London’s finest as apparently there had been a bomb scare in the area through which I was planning to traverse. After a very circuitous route, I arrived at my unstated destination quite a bit later than anticipated. On my return from this mystery venue, after completing my mystery business there, just as I alighted from the tube at King’s Cross station to transfer to another line, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the entire station was being evacuated! These Brits are pretty jittery about terrorism these days. I just wish the terrorists would attack and get it over and done with, so that I can come and go from unnamed locations at will. So selfish (not me, them).
But anyway, how are ya’s all? I wrote a poem about you:
I really miss youse
Yes, I really do(s)
If this isn’t true(s)
It will give me the blue(s)
And then I’ll drink more booze
Possibly from my shoes
So what have I got to lose
Yada yada Penelope Cruz
And glues and roos and Doctor Whos
It didn’t take very long…
A heartfelt Welsh "Croeso" to any new readers to these e-mails. If you don’t want to be a part of the life-draining, chronologically-dampening experience that is my Travel Updates, feel free to e-mail anything you like to any Carlton supporter you know with the subject heading of "Fwd: One Wooden Spoon".
Last time I left ya’s, I had just left the Czech Republic and was looking forward to leaving Eastern Europe with its cheap beers and accommodation and women far behind. "Western Europe!" I exclaimed. "Do your worst!!" And do it did.
Funny story about the title, by the way. Of course, it’s a classic line by Basil from Fawlty Towers. When talking to one of the Canadians I met in Croatia (sorry to do this to you Astrid, and to use your name like that, just then) she said she really liked Fawlty Towers, especially the one which was set during the war when the Germans came and stayed at the hotel. I had to tell her: “That wasn’t during the war – that was set in the 1970’s...” “Ohhhhhhh,” was her reply. “That’s MUCH funnier.”
Yes it is.
Germany is a very cool country. Of course, we’d come here before to enjoy all that Munich and our good friend Baerbel had to offer, but this was our first foray into northern Germany/Allemagne/Nemscja/Deutchland/call it what you will, as each country invariably has.
We entered Germany following a beautiful river valley and came to the town of Dresden, a town that had the unfortunate experience of being bombed back to at least the Dark Ages by the Allies in the dying days of the Second World War (don’t mention it, though) and was then exposed the financial planning brilliance of East Germany for the next 40 or so years. It was bizarre to see that repair works on quite a few buildings of great historical significance that were damaged and/or pulverised during the war hadn’t begun until around 1994! Obviously, the Soviets thought Dresden money would be better used if it were directed into pockets that weren’t actually IN Dresden.
Anyway, cool little town and Tasha, Alicia and I stayed for three days. We bade a teary farewell to our other companions of the past 3 weeks or so - Michael, Alex and Tim...and Evil Fiancee... - and then forgot all about them (not really guys ... um ... haha) because it was too gosh-darned HOT and went down to the local pool for the day. Also, in an effort to prove how hard our lives are, we took a nice little cruise down the Elbe River to (?) castle. But that's enough about me.
Next stop I, Riley, myself, made was Berlin – truly funky. Berlin is a sensational city, and we stayed with the wonderful Gudrun for about 5 days.
The first day we arrived we went to the Christopher Street Parade – or, as I think they should change it’s name to, “Gayfest”. Not so much a gay pride march, but a party on the streets like there’s no heterosexuality tomorrow. Needless to say, I pinched all of the lesbians’ arses, just like I knew they wanted me to. A German guy also tried to pick me up, which Natasha, and only Natasha, found hilarious.
So much to do and see in Berlin - it is a town that has been seriously f*cked around through the years, but, to be brief, we visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp (cheery place), did a walking tour to see HOW MUCH Berlin has been truly f*cked around by the unmentioned second world war and the Wall – or, as the east German government called it – the anti-fascist protective barrier, as well as the Potsdam palaces, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum (sensational), and the Pergammon Museum, to see the Pergammon altar that used to fill the empty space we saw in Pergammon in Turkey before a German archaeologist just nicked off with it.
Unfortunately, we had to move on, so we headed off to Osnabruck for one night. Osnabruck is famous for being one of the places that the main character in the fictional book "The Odessa File" that I had recently read briefly visits. However, we DID get to meet some crazy local Germans, who were there for a "Hella" conference - really! - and who took us out on the town, buying drinks for us and asking us to compare Germans to the rest of the world. Needless to say, the beer-buying Germans were coming out way ahead. Actually, we found the Germans to be very friendly all-round - much more like Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes rather than Toad from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But then it was time for us leave the German Utopia and make our way to that wretched hive of scum and villainy - Amsterdam.
And now, in real time, I'm needing to go to Edinburgh, so I'll send more later.
love the anti-climactic rilestar
PS Here's a little tidbit for ya, though:
INTERESTING PEOPLE WE HAVE MET
As a side note, it seems that every day, we meet another character to add to our pantheon of dudes and freaks. In addition to the ones you've already become acquainted with (such as Mad Pony, Uncle Macca, My Favourite Bulgarian and The Veveos Dancer), here's a few more you may want to put in your address books:
THE GOLDEN GIRLS
Three, um, "older" women who were we met when we first travelling on Busabout. They kept complaining about having to call home to let their daughters know they were OK, they tried picking up Spanish men (possibly matadors), and we helped them steal beer steins at Oktoberfest in Munich, just like ordinary, young, Australian backpackers. Not funny, I know, but we met them, and we called them "The Golden Girls", too. To their faces. And they liked it.
Possibly related to Captain Pivo, a real Australian super hero we saw at Gallipoli wearing an Australian flag as a cape and little else.
A Texan dude we met in the foyer of the sucky hotel we stayed in Bulgaria (wearing his ubiquitous 10-gallon hat - the dude, not the sucky hotel) who apparently drove a mail truck and delivered mail to the American soldiers stationed in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia. How do you get that job? We asked if we could get a lift with him into Romania. The answer was "no".
A girl we met travelling through Austria and the Czech Republic who, we learned through crafty gathering of information, forced her boyfriend to propose to her, made him carry her bags (after getting him to throw away most of the things she considered unnecessary, such as his clothes, shaving cream ("When do you USE this?!?!") and life-saving medicine) and, when he asked if could drink with the rest of us, stabbed him to death. He still had to carry the bags.