London - St Goer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Sunday, 23 September 2007 00:00
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London - St Goer
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Day 1: Sunday 23rd September: London Embankment - St Goer (Germany)

early morning on the embankment Embankment - early morning I awoke with a start to Chris's banging on the door, of a blackout bedroom, with the time and a cup of tea. Thanks to Chris and Jo we made it safely across London to Cleopatra's Needle, the bus and the awaiting media from the BBC. After introductions with Mark, Andrew and our fellow travellers we were interviewed for the One Show with our backs to a beautiful emerging dawn across th e Thames illuminating, of all things, The Festival Hall. Ironical that our bus journey should start with our backs to the building where Grenoside danced in 1951 to celebrate peace. Our journey is destined to end in Boston dancing with Grenoside.

The trip down to Dover went smoothly, caught an early ferry and France passed by unnoticed. After a long journey past Brussels, Brugge, Aachen and Trier we arrived at a very quaint campsite in St Gaor on the river Rhine at approx 6.45pm. When I walked into the bar the owner's wife, a celebrity in the area, threw her hands in the air exclaiming I was Joe Cocker. I didn't know whether to take it as a compliment or an insult. My 25 years of teaching surely hasn't had the same effect on my face that the bingeing on drugs, fags and beer has had on the ex gas board plumber from Crooks. However, the river, site, food and accommodation all lived up to expectations: and for an extra 2 we upgraded to a caravan.  All in all, a very pleasant first day passed as we skirted by the birth places of two of my favourite historical figures: Charlemagne and Karl Marx.

The travellers The Ozbus Travellers With very little ceremony we enjoyed a hearty menu consisting of a tasty salad starter, pork, peas and fritz and peaches and ice cream all washed down with copious amounts of passable German wine and excellent larger. Afterwards we experienced a surreal session in the night club situated under the restaurant which brought back memories of a similar occurrence in the Ecuadorian Amazon. On this occasion instead of UB40 singing 'Red Red Wine' Hermie the campsite owner played a selection of umpah music through an enormous box of a speaker, while equally as loud, some opera singer stood with arms under her breasts singing Wagner on the TV advertising Rhine wines. This site is obviously on the backpacker's circuit because the ceiling of the club is covered in beer mats containing messages posted by previous travellers and revellers. Just as on Facebook Lucy Allen dominated with a message for all of us that the first bus is better than ours.

Marking sending us off Mark the boss wishing us a good journey This appropriately leads me on to the crew and our fellow travellers. Simon Caudel's observations in the Independent that the trip could become big brother on wheels is a lot closer than even he could imagine. The bus consists of, at the moment, 35 travellers and three crew members. The crew, strangely enough, seem more normal than those sitting behind them. The bus is being driven by JonPal a coach driver from Brugge, Belgium. Over a beer last night he told me the story of how he came to be here. Earlier in the year he was fined 750 euros for breaking some EU driving regulation and was so pissed off that he handed in his notice. His boss asked him if he would reconsider his decision and drive his coach to Calcutta. After being convinced that the boss was not taking the piss he jumped at the opportunity. After a day and bit of driving us I'm very glad he agreed to because he's a very steady driver and a thoroughly nice person. However, I can't pluck up the courage to ask him what the offence was for just in case it changes my opinion of him. The backup driver Marcus is a Kiw i returning after working in Edinburgh. However, normality stops with the leader of the bus Layton an Irish -Pakistani, ex PE Teacher, with striking dark eyes and a very strong County Down ascent. Simone and Mac having a last drink in England Last drink in England

On the other hand the travellers are something very different to a normal coach party and I use the term 'party'  very wisely because a certain small section are intent on doing exactly that all the way to Sydney much to the annoyance of Leighton who is at the moment adopting a similar approach to another of my heroes (three all in one day) Napolean. Just as the great fig ure attempted to bring France in line after the Re volution Leyton is trying to steer the bus from anarchy and chaos. At the moment the trip is more Animal Farm than Big Brother, although I suppose they are similar. I am convinced that violence is more imminent here on the bus than up the road in Iran and Pakistan. I just can't wait!

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 18:13