Some years ago… okay rather more than some….. many years ago, myself Big Sal and Bluddy Mary went on one of those holidays of a lifetime. We squirrelled away as much dosh as we could and took as much leave (with and without pay) as we could from our boring Govt clerical jobs and went to Europe to do a massive Top Deck tour. It was truly one of the best things I ever did.
We did a 70 day Grand Tour of Europe on a double decker bus affectionately named ‘Freckle’ with 18 other Aussie and Kiwi ‘packs’ one Boos Driver and one Tour Leader extraordinaire. Okay slight exaggeration on the ‘extraordinaire’ bit (between the three of us we were more knowledgeable on European art, history and culture than she was) but she was pretty fabulous all the same. Our trip was rather comprehensive given we had ten weeks we moved at a fairly leisurely pace ex London to Calais, Paris, Cognac, San Sebastian, Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Avignon, Marsielle, Nice, Monaco (for the Grand Prix) Florence, Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Brindisi, Athens (a week sailing in the Mediterranean), Meteora, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Selcuk, Ephesus, Truva, Cannakale, Black Sea Coast, Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Bavaria, St Goar, Innsbruck, Lucerne, Luterbrunnen, Luxembourg, Amsterdam and a tonnne of small places along the way before going back to London. It’s hard to describe the wonderful things we did and saw without writing and entire book so I won’t even try here. One of the most wonderful things to come out of our trip was a friendship with a chick from Rockhampton named Shell.
It’s really unfortunate that you can’t do trips the way we did it back then… our bus ‘Freckle’ was a retired London double decker bus which had been decked out with a kitchenette downstairs and tables, seats, lockers etc and the entire upstairs had been kitted out with three high bunk beds so there was no tedious time wasting putting up and down of tents and packing and unpacking of bags every day. We just crashed in which ever bunk we found closest and in the morning when the Boos Driver said it was time to pull out, we nursed our coffee mugs and our hangovers and stumbled back onto the bus and hit the road. It was a great experience though there was a few wankers on the trip as you might expect and I discovered something very valuable about myself…. after expending much effort to avoid the company for the worst offending wanker my tolerance threshold actually lasted exactly seven weeks and two days before I’d had enough of his machismo bullshit and I ripped him a new one. I am fairly confident that I wouldn’t be quite that tolerant nowadays.
But I am getting off the point. It was Bluddy Mary’s 40th birthday on Friday and Big Sal and I had been trying to figure out what we could do to help her celebrate. We struggled something fierce with the gift … Bluddy Mary is stylish and has way too much disposable income so not it was not an easy ask. We came up with a multiple choice gift certificate in order to avoid making a gift faux pas. We also arranged to take her out for fabulous Mexican dinner at La Quinta in Balmoral (totally worth the effort if you live in the area… and even though I don’t eat chocolate, I’m told the Chocolate Nachos dessert is delicious) and surprised her by organizing for Shell to come to dinner with us.
It was the first time we’d all been together for eight years and we really should make the effort to do it more often. We caught up each other’s lives, chugged back sangria, did the ‘remember whens’ and laughed until our sides ached. The four of us together were like a brood of cackling hens… in hindsight I hope we weren’t disturbing the other diners! It’s rare to have those types of friendships that remain unchanged over the years. It’s wonderful that we may not speak for months but when we’re together it’s as though we last saw each other yesterday.
I had a bloody marvellous time and can’t wait for 2015… when we’re going to do the "Slappers Reunion Tour of Europe". Four friends, one campervan and as many countries and vineyards as we can squeeze into six weeks!