Saturday, August 30, 2014



The day after I was robbed, of all places, just a few clicks from Poland's holiest of holy places –

Wadowice [vadɔˈvʲit͡sɛ] (German: Frauenstadt – Wadowitz) is a city in southern Poland, 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Kraków with 19,200 inhabitants (2006), situated on the Skawa river, confluence of Vistula, in the eastern part of Silesian Foothills (Pogórze Śląskie). Wadowice is best known for being the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. ',.

Once I had been to the police and with much sign language had worked out to the camp site owners that money was on the way, they lent me dosh. I looked up at the sky. It was overcast. Normally, I should have thought about giving up and heading back to Germany where I live. No money, no passport, no bank cards – no nothing – I do not exist.

No. I am a Rhodesian and one thing I had promised myself and a good friend, I will go to Auschwitz. It was hard to explain to the couple that owned the tiny camp site and a young couple that also helped me, the desire I had. They had never visited, even though it was...just down the road.

Well, on a tiny roller, even 50 clicks is an hour and a half. The sky looked fit to burst, but after refuelling and following the signs for the 'Museum', I trundle down the road to the entrance.

Please, remember I am a writer. That means I look, observe, note, and see things very few people notice. I noticed plenty. The entrance was as if you were arriving for the Munich Oktoberfest. Car parks vied with each other for places. I certainly was not going to pay, so, incredulously, simply parked up on a verge next to a young female student whose job was to con traffic into her boss's car park. Death makes money.

The main car park is packed something stupid with a huge section for coaches. I join the queue to the 'entrance' and, as luck had it – it started to throw it down. Along the 'route' to the entrance, are boards with plans and information. I had an umbrella. Others soon got soaked, and at 2.10 pm I was 'in', only to find that in was not.

I was sent into the cellar and had to hand over my day rucksack – cost, not so bad, 20 pence. Back upstairs, a huge line of cash desks are on the right. People stacking up. There was money, credit card debits going mad to get into …

It seems you have to join a tour in a language of your choice. If you wanted to go solo – wait till 3.00pm. That was when I recognised that awful sound in my head and the urge to vomit. I was about to have a panic attack. Luckily, as I stood confused near the gate, a group of foreigners (no idea where they were from) seemed to tell the bloke at the gate that maybe for some reason or other they had missed the tour group and he let them in – I simply tagged at the back and was through.

I am glad I was with no tour guide and groups with headphones, being rushed from one building to another. I just cruised, absorbed and took my time. The rain had stopped. I saw people crying on the streets, young people.

I ignored the groups with the leader waving an umbrella. The signs were in three languages. Polish, English and Hebrew. No German. I had looked previously at the registration plates of the cars parked up – few Germans.

I do not begrudge the heavy trade in tourism. I believe every one should go to this place. But I was glad I was on my own to wander the back streets, only to be brought up by the electric fences and the warning signs. Alone in my thoughts.

Being able to read German, I could take my time and read some of the archived papers, condemning prisoner number so and so to 5 days in the no sleep cell for 'being lazy at work'. The horrors and the immaculate way it was all reordered, for me, someone who has spent most of his life in Germany – a land I respect for their brilliant efficiency, to see it as a perfect killing machine...

Time stood still. There is no smoking allowed. I had no desire to. Building after building, each one describing in horrific detail what went on there – so much, my mind became numb with the overwhelming capacity of this giant place of torture and mass murder.

I stood in the gas chamber, and from there to the ovens. There, I dug in my pocket, and found the names of my mate Les, his grandparents who were burnt in them. I cried. I am not religious, but sort of said a prayer to them as hundreds of tourists snapped pictures and scrambled past. I do not know how long I switched off from the world and admired the brilliant engineering of the rails that popped the bodies on carts in and out of the ovens. So perfect, they would work today...
I got out, and knowing myself, found a quiet corner and vomited.

It got worse – I was in bits and knew I could not handle much more of this. The shooting wall – where thousands were executed naked (oh the NAZIS were very efficient. Don't waste a good prisoner uniform), the hanging gallows - all became too much. It is beyond belief. I had of course read up loads about the place – but nothing is comparable to being there.

Three hours I lasted. To comprehend and see it all – reckon on two days. It is that large and that...bad. Beyond bad.

They reckon that more people have died in various conflicts over the globe than died in WWII.
Alone, the the massacres in the Congo have claimed 3 million lives. Rwanda - Half a million in six weeks, but never in history, was a determined genocide operated on a perfect bureaucratic system.

And yet, as the anarchy in Israel between them and the Palestinians keeps going – how much can you take?

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Gokwe Kid - Rogue Rhodie on a Roller: Part 14. Totally lost!

Day 25. Thursday 21st August (continued)

When I was a 'good' Boy Scout, I was taught the fabulous skill of orienteering. The maps Rhodesia had, at a scale of 50,000 – 1, were suburb pieces of work. Once, maybe at the age of 13, I went into the pavilion of the Rhodesian Air force during the Salisbury show.

There they explained how they made the maps. A plane would fly a grid and two cameras, spaced slightly apart took pictures. They had some weird magnifying glasses and after 'relaxing' your brain, all of a sudden, the left and right images joined in 3D! From this and other stuff, they made the maps.

Dotted around, depending what area of the country, the Rhodesians had built height markers. This was just a column of concrete, about adult shoulder height, topped with a metal four sided flag painted black. And somewhere would be painted an exact navigational position and the height above sea level.

The most incredible thing were the contours. Spaced every 50 metres, I had no problem creating the 2D image into an actual interpretation of the landscape I would be in. However, a compass was a very handy thing to have. Sure, we were taught emergency adaptations, but it was rare we took a glass of water, a needle, a magnet and tissue paper with us in case a bad man stole the compass. This method does work, the magnetised needle, floating on the tissue paper, would point North/South, until it sank into the murky deeps of the glass.

With this method, you had to wait until after midday and clock the travels of the sun to work out where was north? It also helped to recall that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, except on the weekend because everyone is too drunk to see either.

During the Bush War, and on patrol, I was always in charge of the maps and directions we took, and convert every night our position into Shackle code (which I later found out had been long ago cracked by the Russians). I found it rather surprising that most of our stick, could simply not compute. I was lucky, it was for me so easy! Once I had north, I could 'see' each and every gomo (hill), in front and behind us. I could orientate us to any possible river for water and get it right to 200 meters.

Once you have worked out your exact position, using the compass, you would have to go, say North- East for 10 clicks. There are no roads, there are no man made landmarks. Nothing but bush.
The trick was to place the map on the ground and place the compass on the magnetic north. Now, one had to decide where we are traipsing. Wander in some direction looking for nasty gooks to kill them.

Once that was decided, a direction was concluded and then you needed some kind of 'something' in the line of sight as far away as possible. It could be a gomo, or if in many a bad case scenario, just some large tree. Whatever, it was imperative to hold what you chose in vision. Upon reaching that point, you simply redid the whole thing again.

Easy. Deep in the bush, not a problem. BUT, equipped with the finest technology known to man, within 80-90 odd clicks south of Prague as the crow flies, in the United Nations sanctioned developed country of the Czech Republic.. – I got lost!

(To be continued)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Gokwe Kid - Rogue Rhodie on a Roller: Part 13. Prague and the Police

Day 22. Monday 18th August.

Rise and shine and no kettle or coffee in the room. No big deal and after quick shower it is down to the communal breakfast room where you can eat as much as you like and have as many mugs of coffee your caffeine addicted body craves. The only small snag that we both landed up standing outside as no smoking allowed.

I was still feeling rather knackered from the drive, so a leisurely day was planned. Whilst not in the centre pure, the hotel wasn't that far. Prague isn't really that large as far as sights are concerned. The river Vltava (the same one that had the rafts and canoes on when I started the trip), cuts the city in half. Using the famous Charles Bridge as a sort of fixed point, we were the fourth bridge up stream and after a short walk down the drag leading past the hotel, hit the river.

These pics are from the way.. eish.. I stopped at some smoked sausage joint and it was disgusting!!!

Okay we move on...

Casually strolling along, sometimes the path is along the water front and sometimes set further back with quite some busy traffic. It was at the first junction that I solved another of my problems. When I had rocked up into the centre I had noticed at red lights an awful loud and hectic ticking noise that penetrated my helmet and only went when I accelerated away. I had concluded that the poor roller was giving its death rattle in neutral.

Now I knew what it was. It was for the blind and drunks to cross the road. The ones incapable of seeing the little green walking man. The volume would not bother the deaf but could awake the dead and the sound and speed sent goose pimples down my back because it sounds just like a flight of locusts (creatures I have a serious phobia with). Plus, who ever designed the timing must have been an ex Olympic 100 gold medallist as you had no way in hell of crossing in time. Then, just as the awful noise stops, it starts again, this time for the other way! No wonder no one hangs around street corners here. You would go mad.

I have been here twice before. The last time with my stepmother Katherine around I think maybe 96-97. I have little recollection besides we did stay at the same place from the previous trip – 1991.
Now that had been something...

I had about a staff of eight semi-skilled dryliners working for me. One from Tasmania (on a Brit passport), one a scouser from Liverpool, (profession – cook), and various motley English and Irish.
My ex Daniella, and I, along with a less than one year baby, were moving house and I made a deal with my pirates that if they helped with the move, I would take them on a firm trip to Prague and pay the accommodation. Job done.

The day we left, saw Pat ( a paddy) searching in his pigsty for his passport, so he never went. The others, all well fuelled from the night before, piled into the Transit van two hours behind schedule and off we went. This was barely two years since the collapse of communism and it was evident in the state of the roads and houses.

Cheap hotels did not exist and through an agency in the centre we were given an address of a private residence and after much getting lost, turned up at this house. There we were greeted by an elderly couple, who spoke good English and to make ends meet had turned the top floor into an apartment. No mod cons -  but clean and comfortable.

I felt a tad sorry for them. My peasants moaned about the breakfast that came with the lodging, having no interest in the fare of cold cuts of meat and bread. They staggered around between sleeps totally drunk, ripped the bannister off the staircase wall in one session of 'not sure if I was falling up or down', the Aussie dragged a whore back, and after bursting one condom had left it on the floor where the old lady dutifully disposed of it when she made our beds. All in all they acted worse than animals.

We had struggled to find places to eat and drink. Many a tin was purchased from small stands and one eating place was where the local whores hung out between clients. One drinking place was a working man's joint where a pot of Budweiser cost next to nothing. Evening entertainment – well we did find a Jazz club, but got soon bored. Another time we found a dingy joint underground at some plaza where the local young clientèle took turns to scream terrible noise into a microphone whilst the backup 'group' churned out incomprehensible noise.

We used the metro in and battered Skoda and Lada Taxis back or, as in one night, to pitch up at what was the only disco in town. It was at tennis club where the likes of Martina Navratolva and Ivan Lendl had played and trained. There was a queue to get in and some rather heavy set doorstops that melted when their hands were greased with West German silver and we were in.

It didn't take long for my lot to suss out that the available women, all good looking, were prostitutes. It was rife as the people struggled to make ends meet...

So now I looked around as we progressed. How things have changed. The old buildings all beautifully renovated, the cars all modern, with many a luxury auto amongst them. At Charles Bridge, the mass of tourists from all over the world greeted us in groups of thirty plus following like bleating sheep a guide holding up an umbrella – a far cry from the few backpackers and nutters like us from 23 years ago.

Now you had no problem finding a place to sit outside by the river and eat and drink. The nearer the bridge, the higher the prices, but still relatively reasonable compared to say, London. Neither of us had any inclination to go into museums or art galleries and at one watering hole we simply chatted our language, Rhodesian, and watched the people and absorbed the surrounds. Luckily, whilst the sky was 50% covered with sulking clouds, it stayed relatively warm, and crucially...dry.

Charles Bridge hasn't changed much. The same offers of artists doing your pencil characters, stunning photographs and original water colours with scenes of the city. The prices have changed though. There were some neat bands, and we didn't stay that long amongst the jostle and crowds. Turning right, we followed the river back but more on the waterline. Of course, it strikes up a real thirst and I need more golden nectar.

Day 23. Tuesday 19th August.

I awoke feeling a bit woozy in the head. I was soon to find out why. Returning from her shower, Sue politely asked if I had slept well as she had not. (Please note, separate single beds.) I know she does have problems sleeping but -
“a sty full of drunken pigs, snorting and snuffling intermingled with the shouting of a deranged mad man, gave cause for me not having a comfortable night's rest.”

Ah, it took a moment to comprehend but then I promised on Scout's honour I would be the best Sixpence from now on.

“I hope so,” she said with a wry smile “because otherwise you will be sleeping in the foyer. See ya downstairs for coffee.”

After a shower, I looked up the British Embassy. I suppose I better go see the clowns.
Down in the foyer, Sue has forgiven me and we are planning the day, when Sue says
“There are a couple of cops at reception, I wonder if anyone else has had something stolen.”

A minute later they are at our table “We are looking for a Mr Greenberg.”

I confirmed that I was but as for proving it, I only have a photocopy of my passport.
Whilst I went to retrieve it, I puzzled over the fact that they had found me. I blame it on last night's rum and coke (Sue brought me some lovely Captain Morgens that I had to test along with Brut (less the number 33 and a bottle of the splash on stuff. I had given a Rhodie macho grunt and said - “In the old days, Brut drove the girls mad with desire.” Her reply - “It smells bloody awful!”)

I asked the police. I felt so stupid with the reply. There is me, The Gokwe Kid, the greatest bush detective of all time, and I had registered at the hotel with a stolen passport number. Still, what other number was I suppose to give reception? Make one up? Hah-hah. Since I had the notebook, I amused them with pictures of me and the Amazon books. I was glad they were not interested in my blog regarding certain driving mishaps involving motorways and illegal rollers...

Sue had her passport photocopied and had to sign a declaration that I am who I am. They then spent the next 20 mins (they must have been bored) looking on their smart phones for ceramic shops for Sue to go to and see after she had explained she wanted to visit handicraft shops.

With that giggle sorted out and much to the disappointment of the shadenfreude tourists that I had not been dragged out and beaten to a pulp – we had brekkies (the same as yesterday) and next stop - British Embassy.

After some paffing about we find it. Going in (you buzz a bell and the huge heavy, iron clad door must be pushed with all your might), I asked the heavies behind the mortar proof glass, the classic opening line - “Hi, Do you speak English?” (And I giggled stupidly at my own dry wit. Sue looked at me with disgust.) Luckily the peasants did speak the Queens...)
I explained the situation but before I can get to meet those in the know, we had to dump everything in lockers and go through metal detectors. Eventually we are in and, after a minute, behind more bullet proof glass, I get to chat with a Czech. WTF?

She was very helpful. There is no such thing as an emergency travel document, and if you hang around a bit (not sure how many weeks), for a cool 110 Euros, we will give you a new passport. Sod that for a lark – I take my chances getting home. It was just as well that Sue was lending me money to get back. Can you imagine working some plan out with these clowns? I was given a form to fill in, and left and chilled on this steep road that leads to the Prague Castle. We were eventually served by an extremely obnoxious waiter who became even more snotty after I refused to give a tip. Tip of my boot more like it.

Down we went, crossed the bridge again and wandered into the so called Jewish Quarter. That was very disappointing. I was puzzled that anything remains after the NAZIs were there but at one place where they had the ancient cemetery, you had to go in via an old synagogue, now a museum, and emerge out via the graveyard and for this... they want serious money! In fact ALL the Jewish sites demanded cash entry. No thanks - I have no shekels on me.

Wandering, a bit lost, but no big deal, we make a plan to eat on the river side. Then early bed...

Day 24. Wednesday 20th August

Rise and shine with a cup of Tanganda tea – hardly. What’s the plan? I for one, am sick of walking and popping up to the castle was not my idea of fun. No problemo. You can catch a tram there. Sue loves walking. But I explain that with the tram we get to see things as it goes around the bloody hill. Yeah, one problem though, it seems half of China and Japan have the same idea and as we get crushed more and more at each stop, I thought a tin of sardines had more freedom.

So we wandered around the 'castle' – here it was twice the HQ of the Holy Roman Catholic Empire and after Hitler took over the joint, gave a speech from here. (It turns out, he had invited the then PM or President for a little chat in Berlin and in clear terms had explained that if he didn't hand over his country just like that – his Luftwaffe would bomb Prague. The poor bloke suffered a heart attack there and then and was pumped with drugs to keep him coherent enough to hand his country over to the NAZIS.)

You seen one castle you have seen them all. Not quite, but seen it got the T shirt. It is the same with the churches. If get in free, exactly how many arches, domes and stained glass windows are going to hold your interest? Especially when you know the peasants starved as they built these monstrosities to a non existent deity, whilst those in power exploited their simple minds and lived the high life...

From there we searched for the famous Lennon Wall. I am not here to give a history lesson, but, one china of mine, upon seeing the video I posted on Facebook , The Gokwe Kid, wrote - 'Very interesting. Where is this?' - I sometimes despair for the human race. Considering all my posts were from Prague and his five words of a stupid question - had he googled two - 'Lennon Wall'...just like that.

From there we wandered slowly back. We found an open air market. Very sad. Just junk. 23 years ago, I was in one (now long gone) and there the locals were flogging anything to stay alive. The retreating Russians had passed on their uniforms, and I picked one up. Really smart. Two decades later when I was penniless, I sold it on Ebay for a nice profit. Sue didn't buy a thing – all tack.

Chilling, me drinking beer at waterholes (Sue doesn't drink alcohol, an occasional wine), we grab a bight on the way and rock up at the hotel. I check the roller, and, I have been robbed again!

In broad daylight, parked up against the side of the hotel by the door the cooks use for a quick fag. The gas cooker on the top of the pannier had been ripped off, but had not been taken. The only thing knicked – my sleeping bag. I had to laugh. There was a Tesco next door and I bought another. I made a bit of a gaff, as this was really for kids, but I didn't care. I will manage somehow...

Day 25. Thursday 21st August

Time to move on. But first, before I pack, I need petrol. Yeah, play with one way streets and 40 mins later, totally knackered, I get back and load up. I say goodbye to Sue and with the sat nav on, soon get lost. After much wandering around with the dumb thing screaming at me, I find my way.

Now I have installed ' no motorways' and much to my amazement land up going backwards to get forwards. Of course there is logic in this madness and also why I had been trapped before. Without an absolute, and very large scaled map, it is impossible to get from A to B without hitting the forbidden roads. Loads of the old routes have been converted, so for the peasants on cycles and rollers, you land up criss crossing all sorts of back roads to get anywhere. Not only does this make an 80km trip twice as far, you also run the risk of never seeing a petrol station!

What happens next is so mad, you think I might have made it up...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Gokwe Kid – Rogue Rhodie on a Roller : Part 12. Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more

Day 17: 13th August
As I said - to be continued...NOT. Not now. I went to Auschwitz. I have decided I will write that up along with pictures when I get back to my pad in Germany.
So, it was well late when I got back. Early bed and bad nightmares...
Day 18: 14th August.

Rise and shine. Cool beans - overcast and no rain. It takes ages to pack up after a shower and a couple of cups of coffee. Then ready to rock and roll and there is a photo session with the people that helped me.

I now had one hell of a trip to make. I would follow the same route back. Hour after hour. Refueling whenever I hit empty but no matter how hard I tried, yet again, just as I crossed the border back into the Czech Republic, I was again on a forbidden high speed dual carriageway. I had, just before crossing the bridge that divides the two nations, used up what I thought was my last slotties on tobacco. This was because I presumed after that, no one would accept the stuff.

Nearly 40 mins I was stuck on the damn thing. I was now even more frightened. Bad enough getting caught but as far as the police are concerned – I do not exist!
With roller with no name going flat out, I just hoped at some point I can get off and orientate myself using the ludicrous map of 1cm to 10km. I had a GPS I borrowed but when I tried it out once near Passau, it sent wrong directions big time. The one on my phone I had only used once also and that was for a 5 minute local trip.
Strangely, whilst I passed the trashed garage with the VW Beetle stuck on the first floor, I had somehow wandered off and did not go down the road with all the scrap car parts.
The clicks go by, bit by bit and my bum hurts and my forearms ache from holding the machine onto the road. Some of the dodgier small ones meant keeping your eyesight down to a mere 20 meters in front of you to avoid hazards. It is exhausting work and as trucks rumble past, nearly touching the handle bars, one small slip and I am mincemeat.
And I am freezing. I had next to no warm clothing and had on the thickest sweatshirt (Rhodie of course), and two wests and a light jacket. My mood wasn't exactly cheerful. Along with the downer of being robbed and the appalling weather, I wondered why I bothered chattering my teeth in time to the clattering of the over strained two stroke. Was this fun? Not exactly.
At 4.30, with the machine now driving on fumes, I find a petrol station. Do you speak English or sprechen sie Deutsche? Do you take Euros? All answered with a negative shake of the head. Now what? Casually chattering to me in the local lingo she points to a small  parked up caravan hot dog stall thing.
I get the message. The lady changes my Euros at normal rate and expects me to eat. No problem. I was starving and chilled to the very bottom of my non existent wallet. One chicken leg and fried potatoes plus a giant cup of hot coffee (all for less than 4 Euros), I fill up and hit the road again. But now I feel much better and at 7.30 pm after 276 kms, I arrive back at Sternberk camping site.

I was greeted with delight and much sympathy for my plight. Plus, I had no problems booking in as they knew me.
Early bed.
Day 19:15th August
Chill and but, like wow - the sun shines. Hey... they have a washing machine and I have some serious bad smells emitting from my rucksack. A quick zip to the shops for essentials (beer), and the cheapest packet of local washing powder, that from the picture is guaranteed to make even the darkest whites whiter than a shade of pale. As the owners now know I am not a full shilling, they decide to operate the machine for me.

With some sign language and a bit of German, I ask the kind lady to please exit whilst I get undressed and shove my stinking clothes into the machine (I had brought shorts and a T shirt for this occasion), and promptly rammed everything in. It was beyond a tight fit. I needed all my strength to get the glass door closed.
The lady duly loads half a packet of the stuff, turns it on and explains that after one hour it will be ready. I had one small problem. My two towels had not quite made it in. I sniffed them and tried to conclude if they were still sort of clean or not.
Considering I had sod else to do, I filled a sink in the launderette with hot water, threw them in with a liberal dose of magic powder and let them soak as I soaked up a tinnie of golden nectar. When the tin was empty I looked in the sink. Instead of happy towels there was a pool of swamp water, so black that a black hole in space would have competition.
I was puzzled. I had sat on the laundry step sipping and fagging and did not recall a bad man wandering in with a bucket of swamp water and going out with my towels. So with deep trepidation, I put my hand in – and was attacked by a monster of terrible proportions. Screaming, I pulled my arm out, and wrapped around my hand towels.
I was disgusted with myself. Am I such a dirty person? I threw the things into an adjoining sink and with enough flowing water to open up your own reservoir, I got the things running clear. Well pleased I wandered back to my tent with the dripping things, strung up some rope I had and slung them over.
By now the machine had run its course so I pulled the lot out into a bin bag and dragged the heavy load to the hanging rope. And that was when I noticed a flaw in all of this. I actually had more stains on my clothes than before!
One T shirt was still folded up. All the clothes were covered in residues of washing powder. Nothing was washed. Sure,  they now all smelt clean but that was about it. I made a mental note that a full wash means leave some space for the water.

Oh, well. I hung the lot out, wandered to the bar, grabbed a pint, looked up and the heavens opened in tropical proportions. Great. Just great. Rushing around, I threw the stuff into the playroom and hung it all over the backs of the chairs. And there they stayed till the next day as it just rained, rained and..pissed down.
Marcela, at the bar, lends me a blanket, it is that cold! This is supposed to be the height of summer. The locals can't get over it. Climate change for sure.

Day 20: 16th August
Chill and do nothing but turn the washing over. It rains. However, I get a great send off in the evening and all drinks for free. Micha, the cook is a star. Makes the best grilled skewer and chips.

Day 21: 17th August. Sunday.
Hit the road at 10.00 am, pack almost dry powder stained clothes, and I now will try the impossible. Get to Prague by nightfall. It was stupid idea but I HAD no alternative. I was down to exactly two Euros after working out I would need to refill another two times before I made it. At least it is not raining.
And YET again, I land up on the wrong roads, and the second time, just short of the outskirts of Prague, I do not care any more. Arrest me, at least I hope the cells are warm!
I had ridden for over ten hours with just fuel breaks that take twenty minutes. (Unload, reload, have a fag – not whilst refueling.)
The direction is due west. It reminded me of when I drove back to Salisbury from Inyanga. After Rusape, you had that huge red orb blasting into your eyes and even the heaviest shades could hardly cope.
So I was blinded by the light. Small mercies, next to no trucks and only light traffic on Sunday evening. Shit, I was knackered hey. Prague is like any city, first you go through the suburbs following the signs 'Centrum' and I suppose you can work out how rich each council borough is by the condition of the main drag heading into the middle. Sometimes perfect tarmac and then 'WHAM', one pothole so deep (remember, I cannot see due to the angle of the setting sun), it nearly threw me and the roller. The shocks went beyond shocking and the 17inch wheels were nearly ripped off the chassis. It was amazing that the only thing that was thrown happened to be the one litre emergency canister of juice.
I manage to get into the 'centrum'. Of course, I have absolutely no idea where the IBIS hotel is. Now it is time to use the wonders of modern technology – it would nearly kill me.
Tired, sun has set, twilight in a busy city. I put in what I thought was the address of the place not noticing that for a flash of a second it gives options such as avoid motorways. I have the phone connected to the headphones in my helmet and within 20 minutes of being told to make a half dozen U turns and going in circle, I am in an autobahn tunnel heading to god knows where whilst I scream and shit my pants.
I get the hell out the place at the next exit (in the tunnel) and when I surface nearly throw up from the stress and exertion. This time I type in the hotel and spot the options and 8 mins later, amazingly I am there!
I parked the poor machine around the side of the hotel next to the kitchen delivery door. I chain it to a proper strong drain pipe, strip off the rucksack, and with the day rucksack and helmet, stagger into the joint, shaking like a leaf just as total darkness descended. It was now 9.00pm. I had been on the road 11 hours and covered 307 kms.
I got out my notebook because on it was a copy of the booking Sue had made. As perfectly usual with me, in front of the check-in desk were a couple of complete idiots that had more moans and groans than an arthritic patient with Alzheimers. If only I had my FN at that moment!!!
Eventually after 20 minutes of racing pulse, it is my turn. Looking at the booking I simply have to fill in a form and she doesn't bother asking for my passport. Of course, I entered the number of a stolen passport – mine.
With the magic key shaped like a credit card, this opens the room door and works the elevator, I stagger off. I am called back by the reception babe with the big boobies. Oh-oh!  Ah, it seems I left behind my notebook. Yeah... I am tired hey and after standing in the lift for two minutes shoving the stupid key into a slot in every direction but the one pictured on the wall, I finally drag my weary body into the room.
First thing I do is crack a beer tinnie that I had with its mate, in the side of the big rucksack. Now fortified, I showered and shaved, changed into the few unstained clothes and wandered down to reception. I walked out for a fag and as I rolled – Sue turned up.
Chatty chat and hugs, starving we find the only place open at that time – McDonald’s. A late night – we will do the tourist thing the next few days...

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