I had intended to write a very detailed account of my time in the France, but to be honest, it would take faaaaaar too long. Instead, what I might do is just write down some of the notes that I took during my time of travel. Ah, the travel. Before I left, my friend Ste (whose house we were staying in) and I met at Beckett's in Derry for a pre-departure-to-the-unknown pint. Obviously that turned into four pints. Just an indicator as to how the week began...and continued. There were five of us on the trip: Stephen, Mark (Sparkle), Christy (Crystal), Eoghain (aka -OJ, Crystal's big bro) and I. These are all guys I went to school with, so I've known them since about 1998, and they're like my brothers. The main purpose of the trip was to give Ste and Eoghain a chance to get a lot of rock climbing done.
From my notebook: France Trip 2009 AUG.
Fri 7th: Leaving Derry-Pints in Beckett's with Ste before lift to Belfast-Drunk man on street while smoking - called us 'Lovely Boys' - shudder - Met OJ - drove to Claudy - picked Crystal en route - C has broken elbow "One Wing" - Drive to Belfast - party - mischief - Corona - sofa 4ft long - backache
Sat 8th: Woke up w/ hangover - Tongue like Ghandi's slipper - Hiking gear at Cotswolds - Bought book about Mongolia - fast-food breakfast.
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embarrassing story - Whilst hungover in KFC and feeling like I was still a little drunk, the lovely Asian lady behind the counter was short of change. She asked me did I have a 5. I fished in my pocket. Produced a 5 with a flourish and the phrase "I think I can make your dreams come true". She blinked politely. Felt awful, very 'colonial'. Friends looked at me like I was insane. NB: don't try to be swashbuckling with a hangover
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cont: car to airport - lots of security - difference between UK cops and NI cops = machine guns/pistols in NI - Burger King meal - hangover flight - awful turbulence - Ste hates flying - turbulence makes me giggle - won't sit together on way home I think. Toulouse - late for train - hotel for the night - area populated by drug dealers and hookers - expensive meal - wine - weird mafia bar - early night - shared a room with one wing - free porn in hotel - dancing girls on channel 8 - bizarre
Sun 9th: Early wake-up call - Breakfast (4 shot coffee) - Train to Perpignan - wait around in the sun - Ste's uncle pick us up - 5 boys, all 6'1'' and taller - Renault Clio - 4 free seats exc. driver - Clown car - 40 minute journey - one-wing in the front seat - lucky cripple - squash - arrive - cops next door to house - next door neighbour dead - balloon body - decomposed - 6 people emerge from the clown car - gun-toting gendarme looks confused - quick climbing session - return to house - 16 litres of wine - drunk - Ste shows climbing skills out window - third floor - pile-on Ste - booze - 1.30 am bed
(NB: Holy Fuck!! 16 litres of wine between 5 people. Not good.)
Mon 10th: Hangover - woke up with a fuzzy head - Ste and OJ went off climbing - Crystal/Sparkle and I stayed by the pool - Lilo wars - Sun Sun Sun - Factor 30 - no colour - C and M burn - me still pale - wasted day - built a BBQ - wood fire - felt manly - big big meal of meat (sausage and beef) - late night glow of BBQ with 10 litres of wine and a crate of beer - found Ste's brother's pellet gun - Sparkle passed out - shot Sparkle several times - sang lots of rebel songs - smell of dead neighbour still about - 3.00 am sleep on sofa
Tues 11th: Hangover - big salad for breakfast - BIG WALK - left St. Paul for Gorges De Galamus - swimming hole 3 miles from town -diving from road into a waterfall pool, 20 ft jump- lost hangover - more walking - took Hemingway-esque mountain track- formerly used by resistance Maquisards during WWII- approx. 6 miles, all uphill - 37 degrees C - scrabbling on rocks - glad of anklesafe boots - got to the Gorge - "vent violent" 100mph - road carved into mountain, gorge far below - walked another 4 miles, found route down to the river - scrambled through the rockpools and streams down the gorge - One-wing did okay for most of it - did a 25ft jump into a cold-pool - made for home - down the dirt path - detour to 'Love Making Spot' - most beautiful place ever - trees/waterfall/small bridge/ swimming - walked home - dead tired - ate grapes from the vine - collapsed into the sofa - went out for a meal "Le Soleil D'Or" - worst fucking meal of my life - boudain antillaise = dogshit in a condom - too expensive - ruined the evening - got drunk in the house - Ste and I did our usual wrestling thing - apparently got out of hand - more singing - late night
Wed 12th - BAD Hangover, Tautavel (for climbing), Crystal and I sat by the water side while OJ and Ste climbed, Sparkle and Ste's family in 2nd car - Me and C drank Heineken, drinking all day - watched OJ/Ste climb - larked about - deep convo - lots of sunbathing/jokes/chat - went hill walking - drunk - met some archeologists - excavation - tautavel = earliest human remains in Europe - caveman nonsense - still drunk. Beautiful views - very very happy with the day - spent the night drinking - last night in St. Paul - had a great time
Thurs 13th - Worst hangover ever - woke at 8 after 4 hours - got bus at 9 to Perpignan - train at 11.20 to Toulouse - Train from Toulouse to Pau - Arrived in Pau at about 3 - went on Funiculaire (olde worlde tram for going uphill) - Pau to Biarritz - arrive Biarritz @ 9.30 pm. Exhausted. Spent day playing 20 questions and trying to sleep off hangover - Annual saint's festival in Biarritz - biggest event of year - no hotel/hostel/beds/gites etc - obvi not booked ahead - sat at cafe until 2 - camped on beach - no camping gear - lit small fire - fantastic summer evening - Biarritz = most beautiful women in world - people having sex all round - bit porny- made a wagon circle with rucksacks on beach, lay in relaxed contemplation as the night fell away - gently nodded to sleep at 3am with balmy seabreeze in the company of my beloved friends
Fri 14th: woke at 5 - freezing cold - no cold weather gear- lunatic with tractor combing beach - tried to kill us - OJ and I decide to camp on a cliff = no seabreeze - sit for two hours - felt frozen - sun rise/morning/SUN - dying for bathroom - 36 degrees - walk about Biarritz for present for Ste's girlf - OJ and I give up and go to airport. Eat/Wash/Change/Bliss - give up smoking because of sketchy post-hobo sickness - look and feel like shit - feeling compounded by arrival of 2 full professional rugby teams - feel a wee bit scrawny. Others catch up - flight - all sitting together - ridiculous turbulence - giggles etc - arrive Ireland - run for bus - miss bus - get other bus to Belfast - get back to Crystal/Ste's/Sparkle's Belfast house - load up OJ's car - say bye to Sparkle - drive home - awful weather - late night driving with friends = amazing - home for midnight - been travelling for 40 hrs - bath - bed - snooze. Fucking great trip.
That's it, that's the holiday, and I think I've given you more than enough of an idea of the type of fun I had. Here's some photos to give you a wee visual:
St. Paul de Fenouillet from the mountain trail
Me sitting at a sheer 300ft drop with 100mph winds lashing me, really beautiful (if terrifying) spot at Gorges de Galamus
Tautavel, where Crystal and I srank beer in the water while the other boys climbed (the fools)
Sparkle having a rest on the floor after some wine.
l-r: me, OJ, Ste, Sparkle, Ste's Uncle, Crystal Mc One-Wing
All in all it was a fucking amazing week away, but for the next wee while, I think I'm happy to stay in Ireland for a while. At least until my liver heals.