The buildup - pool matches
So that now I've gotten over the crap result last weekend...
Was excellent. 10/10. The food was delicious, the weather hot, and the scenery maaaaaarvellous.
First stop was Marseille for the game against Italy. We found the beach front where there was a women's rugby tournament happening, complete with a constructed mini-stadium and sand pitch, for calf workouts and light tumbles. We spotted a couple of the ABs who were having a bit of a bike ride and they hung around for a few photos which was pretty cool (I didn't get any, but snapped the camera a few times for some others..).
We also found (or probably more accurately, he found us) an insane Frenchman who was in town to promote OzTag and kept trying to impress us with his impressions of 'Spencer! Spencer!', who we assumed by his constant dummies and no-look passing ('woooah didn't see that one coming, mate... ha ha...good one..') meant King Carlos but it turns out he meant some other French guy who was apparently as dinky and tricky as 'Los' himself... We managed to give him the slip after a while.
The weather was excellent on match day but was a little bit spoiled by the Italians' refusal to acknowledge the haka (cue much booing and hissing). Sun tan all round and drunkenness galore.
That night, we all headed out to some godforsaken place in the docks to see Wellington outfit the Black Seeds play, and were pleasantly surprised to hear that some ABs were going to make a guest appearance!!! I got a photo with Byron K and with Anton O (some will understand the significance of that one) and it was a pretty good night... I went home early having lost all my mates - they managed to get into the VIP area where the ABs were coocooned after the gig, getting off their face and one of the guys leaned over the bar and got a bottle of Pacifico (whatever that is) and ran around the place pouring shots into people's mouths (Jerry's too, apparently). Needless to say, after instigating a food fight at 3am back at our hotel after arriving back, he was sick out the window onto the pavement out the front. Not nice to listen to - or to inspect the following morning!
Next up was Nice, was Nice, I like.. (had to get that one out, been waiting to do that for a while). Again, pretty good weather, but I was rather underwhelmed by the city. The beaches were absolute shite, rocky, stony, and all divvied up between the various businesses and restaurants that had set up on the beachfront. Went for a swim in the warm Med, but I wasn't sad to leave to Nice...
It was fairly exciting to be in Milan for a few days, our sole Italian stopover before heading to Switzerland. At least, it was exciting to be going to Milan.
Milan had a fair bit of interesting architecture and buildings around the place, and the food was a continuation of the gastronomic delights of France, but I'm afraid the squat toilets in the main station left me scarred forever.
In all fairness, it was the equivalent of saying 'I'm hungry' and then having something absolutely vile turn up on your plate - I was saying 'I need to go to the loo' and then all of a sudden I didn't...
Milan was dripping in money. Me and my mate found a club that was open on a Monday night, got in for 20 Euros, and spent the whole night marvelling at the exclusivity, the snobbery, and the very good looking women in attendance. 15 Euros for a bottle of Heineken - I think I went through 100 Euros for the whole night. Breathtakingly expensive, but worth it. A few lessons in the importance of appearing earnest or at least filthy rich.
A day trip to Lake Como was well worth it - highly recommended for some quality views all back over Italy to the south and Switzerland to the north. Very nice way to spend a day.
It was a relief to be back in German-speaking territory again - the previous 6 or 7 days I had been struggling to get my French numbers and Italian phrases out in complete sentences, and it almost felt like being home, being able to speak German again. We were in Luzern, in the German quarter, and back in Switzerland! I was particularly pleased to be back.
We went up Mount Pilatus, taking the round trip which is a boat trip from Luzern, up the cog railway, then back down to Luzern via a half hour trip in the gondola. Again, an excellent way to spend a day.
I really enjoyed the rest of our stay in Luzern - eating chocolate, drinking beer, eating lots. Purchasing the obligatory Swiss Army knife - sent it back home for my dad's brithday...
Then it was back to France, and to Lyon for the game against Portugal.
This game was much more enjoyable - the atmosphere was pumping thanks to the Portugal supporters, who absolutely screamed their heads off whenever they scored points. We found a place called 'Le Maori Cafe' which, wait for it, is a Maori cafe!! Pretty good atmosphere and found a few cuzzies too!
The night after the game all the other guys in our tour went out for some dinner, I stayed at the hotel owing to my stuffing my face with a burger and chips after the game, not being hungry. A couple of hours later the guys came back, having bumped into some of the ABs again at Maccas... No photos this time.
Then it was on to Paris where we spent a night before flying back to London - one last opportunity to quaff some fine wine and have quality cuisine.
I'm now holding out for the next culinary delights I'm expecting - in NZ next year when I visit.
Oh and: I think I've worked out what this comment thingy is. I've deleted the abuse from Anonymous and rejected all the spam, published a comment from about 6 months ago so feel free to email me if the comment thing stuffs up again. Cheers.