Wednesday 23rd January 2008

I hate losing, just like every football fan. Defeat against arch rivals Spurs leaves more of a bitter taste in the mouth than defeat against Middlesborough in the league. I am getting slightly ahead of myself. The story begins, as they all do at the beginning. I was looking forward to the evening. Particularly as we had agreed while in Kitzbühel, at the final whistle of the first leg to get together for the return leg. I had a nightmare journey into the office. If any of you are on my Face Book, you would have noticed my status change to “Andrew has just taken 40 minutes to travel less than quarter of a mile”. I got into my car just after 7.30am. I was still stuck in traffic at 8.16am, when I took this photograph.

Sunrise over Handy Cross

Traffic does not bother me, as long as I have my music, I am fine. I actually bumped (not literally) into an old school friend Imran in his Peugeot 306 on the roundabout. He had left his house earlier than me and had to be in Essex for 9am. I think the drivers around me must have been shocked or at least surprised to see me open my passenger side window and start having a casual conversation with another driver. We both agreed we had never seen it this bad and we had both been stuck in some crazy hell raisers (mainly on the rush hour home than before sunrise). I explained that as I only worked down the road, I could never really ever be late but called the office in any case to let them know where I was. Even though I do not have to be in until around 8.45am. The day dragged a little but I expected that. I tried my best to not think about the match and focus on work. Of course around 4pm, my MD came over to discuss team news (from the Spurs web site) and I cross referenced this against the BBC Sports pages. He was sure Arsene would field a strong side and a few kids, but I could not see Fabregas listed in the squad. We would find out for sure in a few hours time. I got home, had some food, had a shower, got changed and was out the door around 6.30pm. The collection time for Mr. Fox was 7.15pm, although he text me at 6.56pm, “Ready anytime Teg! Let’s Go!”. I was at the BP petrol station around the corner, getting some cash and mints. Good I had left early, I parked up around the corner from his house and knocked on his door. I was greeted by his Dad. I had to remember to use his real name and not stupid nicknames now, “I’m here to pick up Thomas!”. Foxy was at the top of the stairs putting on his shoes but seeing me in my Arsenal top decided to put on his vintage Spurs top, so I had to wait. We did eventually leave the house, once he had gone back upstairs to get his keys. I was glad that this pick up was a very rare occurrence. We jumped into the car and headed into town. It was now I was informed of the fringe benefits of rolling with the T. He had a pass for the Oracle car park so parking would be free of charge. Fantastic. Only a saving of £2.70 odd but a saving nonetheless. We parked the car and headed over to the Walkabout. Pav & Emily were waiting outside. Kev was on his way, as was Geoff with some friends. We found a nice spot underneath one of the screens to catch the game. On the adjacent screen they were showing Sudan versus Zambia from Group C. Geoff commented that one of the coaches looked like Danny Glover. I laughed in agreement. This was the build up to the game, some twenty, twenty five minutes to go. I had a feeling inside that this was not going to be my night. I just sensed something, call it a gut instinct if you will. When Spurs took the lead so early and unlocked our defence so well, I knew the writing was on the wall. Even at two nil, I thought Arsenal might get it together and claw it back and then finish them or in worse case scenario hold out for extra time and win on the away goals rule. It was not to be. It is difficult to describe what unfolded on the television screen in front of me and the humiliation I suffered in the Walkabout. I was not to know that the place was over 90% Tottenham. They went crazy, particularly on the third goal. Arsenal were poor, extremely poor. Fabregas was ordinary, Adebayor and Eduardo came on too late and while we have chased games on a number of occasions this season, this was a bridge too far. I think their first goal came far too early. It knocked our confidence and the heads dropped. A good match review with some common sense perspective is over at The Cannon. I just wanted to get our of there but it was to get worse. The 5th killer goal at the death sent the pub into up roar, they were dancing around, many shouting and laughing in my face. The grin on the t_dogg’s face was wider than the English Channel. He was loving it. At full time we headed back to the car, Foxy singing most of the way to the car. When we got back into the car, we were going to listen to Radio Five Live but t_dogg decided to put the Ministry Of Sound Anthems CD back on, Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness. As I got closer to his house, he was dancing making the score out of his hands and waving them in my direction. Thank you very much. I was looking forward to getting him out of my car. I drove home listening to music, preferring not to listen to Spurs fans calling the Beeb. Then I realised I had not received a text from my MD. This could only mean big humiliation for me tomorrow morning. Oh dear!

One Nil to Spurs!

Day 5 – Tuesday 8th January

I got up late, very late in fact and was eating breakfast with Geoff at ten past 9. I got ready and rushed across to ski school. I found Duncan and was moved (once again) to Tony’s group (along with Heather). We walked down to the bus stop via back route behind the main ski school offices. Here we waited a few minutes for the ‘Ring Bus’ which would take us to the other side of town to the Kitzbühel Horn. The journey was about ten minutes and the bus was packed (as it is for all journeys most of the day). I took my gloves off to put my lift pass inside the my left jacket pocket (for ease of use when approaching the barriers). Tony noticed the plaster on my fingers and asked if I had cut them by man handling my skis. No I replied, thinking it was best not to explain the real reason. Once we got off the bus, it was a short walk around to the ski lift. Tony explained how to get on and off the gondola and where to place our skis. This was an experience for me, my first ever venture onto such a vehicle. It might sound like nothing, but remember I never even considered going skiing so to get to this stage and go up into the mountain for the first time, you can appreciate the big leap of faith. The views were spectacular, particularly with the bright sunshine. I also had my camera with me for the first time, so was hoping to get some good pictures, even if that was only during lunchtime. At the end of the ski lift, we got off went upstairs to the exit and came to a chair lift. Another first for me. However, as we were beginners, it was too early for us to ski down the slope, so we took our skis in our arms and took the lift down one by one. Tony waited for us down at the bottom. I lost one of my poles coming off the lift but Tony retrieved it for me. We then went across to the nursery area and had a few runs down. Then it was time for something a little more challenging, so we had a few runs on blue run 15. We took it in stages before heading back up the chairlift for lunch. It was here I got a chance to get my camera out and take some photos.

The Horn

It was packed on the balcony with skiers and snow boarders enjoying the sunshine and entertainment. Yes, Colin was here, the Entertainer, singing along to various song. Plus there was a very bad Elvis impersonator who came on to perform a few songs. I am trying to remember some of the songs he sang but I have forgotten them now. Always On My Mind perhaps? I did not really want lunch to end. Tony had warned us that after lunch we were going to work our way down the mountain (across a red run) all the way down to the bottom of the bowl. We took a course across the slope, skiing side to side, with the boarders and experienced skiers coming across us. It was a nerve racking experience for me, particularly as you can just look up see the steep slope and little kids, some aged as young as eight glide down without effort. I made it down with no crashes and then at the top of a small hill, it was a case of full blast or as Tony put it, “As the kids say, just bomb it!”. I tried but I was nervous about going too fast so kept my speed down, this was a mistake. You seriously just had to blast it because when you get to the bottom, there is a small incline. I gave up and took off my skis and walked the last few yards. Putting my skis back on, we had to get the t-bar lift up to the top of 15, the blue run from this morning and we then made our way down the slope, at first in stage stopping every hundred yards or so before Tony guided on how to approach each section. Then at the bottom he would watch us come down one by one and give us direction to improve our technique. Then it was back up to the top and down again. Three more runs and it was time to call it a day. We headed back up the chair lift and then onto the lift all the way down. During our trip down (Tony was in the cable car with myself and Heather) he pointed out the track we would take down to the middle station tomorrow. I took a big gulp and tried not to think about it.

HeatherView from Cable CarTony

When we got back to the hotel, it was a big relief to get my boots off. It was here I bumped into Mel. She had had a bad day. Gone up to the top of the mountain, frozen and then cried all the way down the on the lift. Got back to the hotel and called her Mum. She was not enjoying the holiday, calling the sport a “modern form of torture”. I tried to not let her bad karma affect me but it was not easy. I am trying to remember what we did that evening but it was not big. Emily and Pav wanted to go into town, find a quiet cafe for a drink. So Geoff, Paul, t_Dogg and myself joined them. We found a cosy little place opposite the Spar and had hot chocolate. The Austrians do like their cream. Everyone apart from myself and Paul shared an Apfelstudel (an Austrian speciality). Afterwards we settled the bill and headed back to the hotel. We stayed in the bar after dinner and played UNO as we found about three decks in the games cupboard. I had never played the game before but soon learn the rules. It is interesting reading the Wikipedia page about the different style images depending on the language. I almost won the second game but my failure to shout, “UNO” meant Emily took the game! I was gutted. After one more game we retired to our room for the evening. Paul had gone to bed straight after dinner, so we invited everyone back to our room for a bit. Pav played t_dogg in a battle of Abalone, he lost. So, I took on the winner and played him well for most of the game until some stupid mistakes cost me. There is a classic photograph of “Das Victor” which Geoff has uploaded to Face Book. It will be worth the wait, trust me! Then it was off to bed, I think it was around 10.30pm by the time I finally drifted off. Three days of lessons down, two more to go before I was free!

Day 6 – Wednesday 9th January

I am trying to remember exactly what happened on this day but it is difficult. My memory is not as good as it used to be. So, I apologise in advance if the posting for this day is patchy. My friends had a major plan for day. Pav & Geoff were going to hit the mountain as soon as the lifts opened and spend two and a half hours to get down to the bottom for lunch. Then everyone was going to get together and catch the bus over to the toboggan run (including Mel). I was actually quite jealous and wish I could have come along for a race or two. I got up early, had breakfast with Em and Geoff and headed out to the bus stop for 9.30am. However, Tony was late, delayed back the ski school office, so we did not get onto the Ring bus until gone 10am. We had a new member of our group, she had skied before but had lost confidence on the slope, so opted with some refresher lessons. He said he would make the time up at the end of the day. We headed back up to the horn for the day. We got up there, did some runs down blue 15 to get going, then went back up the chair lift to go down the zig zag path across the red slope. Then we broke up for lunch. Next was the big one, skiing down all the way to the middle cable car stop. However, there was a twist. We were to be filmed all the way down the by a cameraman. Fantastic! Just wanted I needed to improve my concentration, a big distraction. So to add to my nerves, I had a camera pointed in my face and was asked to wave as I skied along! Great(!) We made our path down the mountain, in stages. It was beautiful scenery but I did not have much time to enjoy it, I was too busy concentrating on my skiing and trying to improve. The paths were quite narrow and at times the edge far too close. The drop through the trees was not visible! We made our way down and I was quite proud of myself of getting this far. Then came the bomb shell, we were going to go up and do it again. Some people dropped out, preferring to head back to blue 15 for some practice, a small group of us continued. The cameraman, had, thank God, disappeared. But it was actually a shame because he missed two spectacular crashes, one which included some spilt blood. Once we got down to the bottom, we got onto the cable car and the destination was back to the hotel. I over heard one of the ski instructors say that Flannigans was showing the Arsenal Tottenham match that evening, so thought I would let the t_dogg know once we got back to the hotel. So after dinner, we had a quick drink in the bar before heading down into town. The motley crew was Foxy, Paul and myself. We found a table, got the first round in and then waited for the match to start. Sky Sports coverage showed that kick off had been delayed by fifteen minutes due to problems at Finsbury Park, so it would be 9pm (CET) when things would get going. I saw my instructor Tony at the bar and offered him a drink but he was already struggling, so I wished him a good evening and would see him tomorrow. It felt strange watching this fixture because if I had not been out in Austria skiing I would have been at the game, much as I was last year in early February. Tottenham started well and has difficult as it is for me to say, deserved their lead. Arsenal came back into the match in the second half and when Theo scored it was a great relief. Foxy was the only Spurs fan in the pub and pinning his colours clearly on the flag pole! Arseblogger perhaps gives the best review of the match. Gunners were below par and Tottenham could have taken more from the match. However it was perfectly posed for the return leg in two weeks time. At full time, only the boys were left in the bar. The girls had gone back to the hotel. We decided (or rather the T decided for us) to make a night of it! All I can say is we got back to the hotel quite late, must have been around 2am. (Having to wake up Mel so we could get in, as Geoff had taken our only key).

Day 7 – Thursday 10th January

My last day of lessons and the holiday was drawing to a close. It was important to make the most of the final few days on the slopes. I had the joy of my last lesson. The race against the clock and then another few runs down the mountain again but the day would be over shadowed by my friends, I will get to that later. I had just accustomed myself to the routine now. Getting up on time, getting ready, being at the bus stop by a certain time, getting onto the bus and getting up to the top of the Horn. We made our way down the slope to the training area. A salom course had been setup and we were first allowed a practice run before suiting up with numbers. I was given 69. Make of that what you will. I was third to head down when it was our groups turn, I tried to go as fast as possible and it felt fast. (I couldn’t make it to the award ceremony so will never find out what I clocked up). Then it was a quick warm up on the blue 15, we did about three runs before heading back up the chairlift. Although it was a while before lunch. We headed down to the middle lift station again to a restaurant around the corner. Heather and some of our group made their way down via the lift, while the brave among us, five in total skied down. As we were just around the corner, Tony stopped ahead of me. The reason? It was pure ice. I tried to stay on my feet but feel and then opted to slide down on my backside, down the hill to some flat snow when I could actually get up and walk around to the restaurant. The views from the patio were amazing and the food was very good, much better than the ‘service station’ quality you had at the top of the Horn, for the past two days.

The RaceKitzbühel

After lunch we headed back to the Horn. This time we were in for a true test. Our first red run, under the guidance of Tony of course but still a nervous prospect. We took it slowly in stages but by the time we got to the bottom I was dehydrated. The heat and the amount of skiing I had done was getting to me, so I opted to head back up to the top of the Horn and get a drink. The rest of the group were going to hit the red run for a second time. I got a bottle of water and went out onto the balcony and took some photographs of my group going down, I walked around the corner and heard the distinguishable voice of the T. Everyone was there and it was good to see them. But then as I tried to get away, t_dogg said, “Right let’s f*** Teg up!”. Great(!). So as I headed outside to wait for my group to gather, Adele, Emily, Geoff, Paul, Pav and of course the one and only t_dogg waited for me to head down the slope. We slowly made our descent and my friends waited until I was down far enough and then followed, skiing and boarding in between our group. Paul said he was going to film me but he did not (thank God) because I then had a crash. I heard Pav shout, “Woh, Terry!”. I was laughing, as I got myself back up and skied the rest down to the rest of my group. It was when we started the next section that Pav came screaming down past me, hands in the air, shouting something like, “Wooo hoooo” but I only saw him briefly as he disappeared and the only other thing I heard was the sound of his board on the snow. They were heading for the black run down and spending the rest of the afternoon at the Horn. They had said I should come back up after my lesson but I did not really have the time. We made our way down to the cable car station. There was just three of us now and it was physically demanding, mainly because we were not stopping as frequently and there were was much more traffic around us. I just wanted to get to the bottom as quickly as I could and was glad when the final bend came along and you could see the station in the distance. That was it, lessons were over. I had had a rather mixed bag really. Moved three times but eventually found a really good instructor. I thanked him for his time and more importantly patience. We would meet up again later that evening for the showing of the DVD. Back at the hotel, I changed out of my ski boots but did not go up to the room, heading straight back into town. The screening was to take place at the Mexican restaurant, La Fonda. I was the first to get there and it was a going to be at least thirty minutes before the viewing started, so I got a drink and waited for the others to arrive. They did eventually and headed upstairs to the dining area for a viewing???. I was expecting a bigger screen and playback from a DVD rather than the video camera but never mind. It was quite good considering but I do not like some of the Euro Pop tracks used as background music. One in particular, I have tried to find the name of the artist but no luck from Google. I bought a copy, mainly to have something to show my family and a souvenir to prove that I did actually ski on my holiday. Sure it was expensive (if you consider the € per the video minute ratio) but if I never ski ever again in my life, I will have a moment forever. I am ripping the DVD as I type this using the fantastic DVDFab Platinum software! I just need to edit it down to ten minutes or split it into two or maybe three parts. I have actually put a four minute video together which is the best bits from the 25 minute DVD.

After the viewing I went with Tony and his girlfriend Jessica (another instructor at the Red Devil Ski School) to Flannigans. I bought them a drink and thanked Tony for all his help, advice and generally putting up with me. Particularly my friends distracting me on our last run down. His final words to me as I left was to not do anything stupid. I replied that he knew me now after three days of lessons but he was referring to my second morning and my attempted heroics over on the nursery slope. We laughed, but then Jessica came in with some horror story of a guy breaking his ankle and having to be taken off in a stretcher. Just the confidence boost I needed for my last day.

Day 8 – Friday 11th January

This is where my holiday truly started. We had planned the night before to make the most of our last day on the slopes. We were going to opposite sides of the resort but agreed to meet up for lunch at the top of the Hannekham. Even Mel was gonna join us! First though I think I should explain Crazy Hat Day. This was the invention of Miss Emily Jane Poole. She had asked everyone to purchase a Crazy Hat which had to be worn by every member of our group on a designated day during the holiday. As I was in lessons all week, this day was to be today, the Friday. As always, I followed the procedure to the letter and had my Crazy Hat on all day. I was the only person to bother. I was extremely disappointed, particularly in the organiser of this group fashion activity as she herself firstly did not wear her home made Crazy Hat. Secondly she had the cheek to say my Crazy Hat was not ‘crazy’ enough. I think for someone who always plays it safe when it comes to clothes, ties, shoes and all the accessories, a pink hat which was a mixture between Deerstalker and Russian Ushanka was as wacky as you can get with me! In any case, I was not going to let other people’s non participation get in the way. I was going to wear my hat with pride and smile! This was my first trip in the gondola which can be seen through our hotel bedroom window. I was looking forward to hitting the slopes with Adele & Geoff. While my technique is not perfect it was enough for me to get around be it at a rather relaxed pace. I will try and upload a link to an interactive map so you can see which runs I completed. There are quite a few. Here we go. From the top of the Hannekham, we took 36 down to the main area. From here it was straight down run 18. This was my far, my favourite run of the day. It was relatively wide and just a case of getting your feet parallel and putting on the gas. I was quite apprehensive to begin with but on my second and third run I was much faster. There were some igloos at the bottom (including a hotel) and a reindeer had been brought around which had Adele going all soft (as all cute animals do to girls). We headed back up but decided to have a tea break. Hot chocolate all around and Geoff helped himself to a pastry. There were deck chairs outside so we made ourselves comfortable while we planned the next couple of hours before lunch.

Blue Run 18Geoff & Adele

Right after the short tea break we did the following (I think!). We went down run 18 once more but drifted off to the left and completed run 16 around effectively back on ourselves and down. This turns into run 26. It was very steep and I had one spectacular crash but this was only the start. Once at the bottom, we caught a chair lift up and went down 26 again but from the top. My memory is patchy on this, even by consulting the map is not working. I may have to get Mr. Geoff to confirm! One our second run down 26 I had amazing crash which I loved. I was going faster than I had ever been before and knew I was not gonna be able to keep control for much longer and crashed to the side of the slope. I was laughing but I had ripped my jacket (unknown to me at the time, I would discover this when Em would notice it lunchtime). I had lost my poles but eventually two nice people pushed them down to me. I eventually got back onto my skis and skied down to the bottom to the waiting Geoff and Adele, I think Geoff was poised with camera but I’ve not seen the photo yet. (It will be over on his Face Book somewhere) Now it was a case of getting back up to our start point for lunch. Back around and down 36, then a rope lift up at the top and a sheer drop at the top and we were back at the restaurant. We were early, the rest of the gang were on their way up. We found a table on the balcony eventually and sat there but moved to a bigger table once everyone appeared.

T-Dogg & GeoffView from HochkitzbühelAdele, Mel & Emily

They did eventually and we ordered our food. There was a bit of a wait, they were quite busy but it was well worth it. The food was very good. I was more than full as we paid and left. Unfortunately, somehow I was left behind everyone else. Then as everyone made their way onto the snow, I had a call of nature. I could not wait. I put my skis down and went back upstairs to the toilet. By the time I got back outside, the only person waiting for me was Pav. The rest had made their way down. I saw Pav waving and rushed to get my skis on and caught up with him. Now the laugh about why I had been delayed. They all thought I had made a mistake and gone down a red run. (Maybe if I was feeling much more confident!). I eventually caught up with everyone and they had a good laugh at my expense. Particularly Emily who thought I was running scared and hiding from the mountain. Not quite but I was up for the challenge, or so I thought. Went we eventually got up there the wind was blowing hard and throwing the snow across the slope. Not as bad as the blizzard the rest of the gang had suffered on Tuesday. (Geoff has uploaded some video footage to Face Book, so you will need to take a look on there.) I made it down half way with Emily and Pav close behind. Then as I came down the corner (you could not see how steep the hill was) I saw how bad it was and just crashed. I tried to get back onto my ski but just crashed again. I think I got to a fourth attempt but by then the frustration was too high, so I took off my skis (yes a big big mistake – I know Pav!) Put them on my shoulder and slid on my backside down the mountain, with very little control on where I was going. Every so often someone would ask to see if I was okay, some offering to help me up. I would just say I was fine. I did not want to cause a fuss or create a scene. My friends waited down at the bottom but after fifteen minutes, the only person I could see was Adele. The rest had gone up the other chairlift to our right to go down the red run. (Numbers will be confirmed later when I speak to Geoff). It was a bit of a shock some ten minutes later when Geoff suddenly appeared to check I was okay. I was on my feet and skiing down but another crash and I gave up. Lady Poole appeared and asked for my poles and away she went. I then slowly made my way down the slope to the bottom. I had given up, I wanted to go back home. However it was not that easy I had to ski down. After our leisurely lunch I had lost track of time, it was gone 3pm and the lifts would close in just under an hour and a half. I was against the clock. We were coming down run 16 again but the part I had not skied earlier in the morning. The hill was quite steep and I crashed once again, took off my skis and made my way down. An Englishman advised that I should ski down on my edges and it would be easier and quicker than walking but I was being stubborn. By now the only person that had decided to stay was Geoff. He was annoyed. I got to the right hand side of the slope and then tried to put my skis back on, left foot no problems, right foot struggling. Then after the 34th attempt to clip in my boot, Geoff shouted, “Put the binding down!”. He was right, all the time spent trying to put my ski on had been wasted because the binding was in the lock position. I put the binding down with my pole, got the ski on and skied down to Geoff. We then had to ski around to the lift. It was nearly closing time. We were the only two people on the piste. The snow plough had started and was heading in our direction, I avoided it, just and then headed around to the chair lift. It was an amazing feeling rushing down the slope at high speed, semi in control. We made it to the lift and I got an earful from Mr. Barlow. Rightly so too! “You’ve skied down more difficult steeper slopes than that today. You should not have taken off your skis”. Rant over, he moved into his coaching role to get me back to the Hannekham gondola before it closed. The thought of having to do a red run all the way down to the bottom was my main motivation to ski as fast as I could back to the lift. It was a case of ripping down and around 36 all the way down and then taking the rope lift up to the top and voilà, I was home and dry. Getting there was not much of a problem. I kept on my skis, no crashes, well apart from a stumble when I got to the rope lift but I was home and dry. Pav was quite shocked to see me so soon, “Whatever Geoff said worked then!” My excuse, as we made our way down back to the hotel? As Foxy had opted to go skating with Mel, I thought I would take over as the entertainment for the group for the afternoon. Pav has some great photos of me collapsed on the slope in a heap, which I am sure he has uploaded to Face Book. While some people may have decided that this was not the sport for them, the last hour or so and the mad dash back to the lift has made me eager to come back, hone my technique and finally take on the mountain. The best part was going really fast around a corner as we headed for the chairlift by the igloo village. I was going so fast that the adrenalin was just pumping through my body and I loved it. I want to apologise publicly to my friends for causing them such a nuisance on both the Saturday and Friday of our trip. However, even they will say that there was a vast improvement from me within a week. It is just a case of coming back again soon and hoping the Wycombe Snowdome is constructed as soon as possible. (The trek over to Milton Keynes will be a thing of the past) We had our last evening meal later than usual as some of the group were busy packing. We eventually went into the dining area around 7.20pm, and planned our last night in Kitzbühel. We had our last drinks in the penthouse suite but there was also a little presentation. Card and medal (of the chocolate variety). After all, on our journey back the following day it was Pav’s 26th birthday! I had returned my lift pass but t_dogg offered his pass so I could go on the night lift up to the top of the Hannekham. Geoff lent me his camera to take some photos and Adele, Em and Mel came up with me. However only every 25th lift was open for passengers so we had a little wait at the bottom station. We then headed up and opted to just not get off and come straight down. The views were impressive but the photos did not come out well, mainly due to the glass. When we got down to the bottom, Adele headed back to the hotel room, she was not feeling too good. The rest of us joined the boys in town. Well we actually got to Highways bar before them and got a round of drinks in. The guys did arrive eventually and I was given a story about Foxy banging a nail into a lump of wood. Highly entertaining, I am sure! In the music bar they had reggae playing, although the stage was setup for a band, they were not due to perform until 12am, so we left shortly afterwards. The options were Flannigans with the Elvis impersonator but I had already told the group he was rubbish. As we walked out the door, Geoff & t_dogg started talking to some local kids (they were 17 and did not get into the Highways Bar). I left them to it and joined Em, Mel, Paul & Pav around the corner. There was a bar on the main “High Street” but we were waiting for the Foxy and Geoff. Pav got a text, they were heading to the Londoner! Great. While waiting outside this bar, Em was approached by some European guys (one black, one white) enquiring about the local night life. The black guy was definitely from the hood, in white hoodie, worn with a baseball cap. He asked Pav if there were any hip hop clubs around, we didn’t know of course and doubted that kind of musical taste would be catered for but pointed him in the direction of the bars and clubs further down. We decided to call it a night, after all we were going to be picked up at 5.55am for collection to our coach. As I walked towards the hotel, I suddenly realised that I did not have a key so would have to go and grab it from the boys in the Londoner. As I walked around I noticed a black brand new R8 parked up on the side of the road. It already had quite a few admirers. This was the first time I had seen the car on the road. I had yet to see the car in London (although given the probability based on my rather short commute it is somewhat understandable). I wish I had my camera to take some photos but I hadn’t brought it out. It was just a fantastic sight, to see it close up. Black looks extra sexy on this car for some reason! I headed around the corner, into the Londoner, grabbed the key of Geoff as they watched five large Stiegl beers being poured out. I would see them later and I headed back to the hotel. My last night in Austria went out with more of a whimper than a bang but never mind. I am quite sure I will be back!

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