Forget planes, trains are the way to travel. Particularly if they're French, don't stink of old lady's wee and go at 200mph. Leave London 0534, arrive Marseilles 1329. Genius. No shitty airports, no queues and a big comfy seat.
Sometimes I'm like Paddington Bear, as in , things happen to me. All we wanted was a cab from station to apartment, a quick change into shorts, dump bags and leggit back to the Vieux Port for the first game. Thanks to that twat Remy, we were now staying at the very north of the city in a crappy flat in a very dodgy area near the docks, but hey, we didn't plan to be there much, it was just a bed. Anyway, we grab a cab, we're nearly at our pad, and another car dings the back of our cab in the narrow street and drives off. Our driver turns into a full on mentalist and gives chase. Its only when we're doing 95 on the wrong side of the road that we realise there are no seatbelts in the car. Enough,not wishing to be a French motoring statistic, we demand he stops. He does and invites us to piss off out of his cab. There's three of us and one of him so we tell him to take us to our fucking pad and then he can piss off. Fair enough, but then we have no drive back to town. Our French is woeful, so a neighbour kindly calls us a cab, and we make it back just as the anthems are being sung.
My companions for this trip are my English brother in law (BIL) and my South African chum (Bokke). So I'm the only one along for the jolly, Wales being shite and all that. The big screens were slap in the middle of the old port, which is very impressive, a large fort guarding the entrance, and a stunningly pretty church perched on a hilltop looking down on the cluster of boats and eager rugby fans. The rest of Marseilles, much like many port cities was a fucking shit hole. We watch England beat the convicts in the sweltering sunshine helped by many cooling pressions. BIL is chuffed to arseholes and is one of many dazed Englishmen around us. Bokke and I are amazed. How can a team that dull and shite be in a world cup semi final (little were we to know that it would get worse the following week) We had a mooch around the old port, sampling various French lagers and the odd Pastis on the way whilst choosing a restaurant for an early evening meal .KT Tunstall was playing later on by the harbour, and we wanted to watch a bit of that before baggsin our spots for the next game. We opted for a fabbo fruits de mer washed down with a couple of bottles of Chablis. I say fabbo, everything bar the sea snails, which were fucking minging, but it was a matter of manly pride to finish the lot.
This is the bit where the evening went slightly tits up. We lost BIL. his phone kept going ansaphone, which was more than irritating. (later we found out he dropped it and it was fucked). Realising that we would never find him in such a massive crowd, Bokke and I decided that we would enjoy the rest of the night, and find him when the crowd dispersed. So, we had a few more beers. One, in a bar which we thought was paricularly friendly and only had men in it, stepped outside and noticed the multicoloured flag, oh yes, the poofs like their rugby too. Caught a bit of KT and then watched the French do the Kiwis up the wrong 'un. What a night, we sang, we danced, we hugged smelly Frenchmen. It was bloody 'triffic. We found a cool little bar on the front for more Pastis and singing and did the odd recce for the BIL with no avail. At 2 ish, we thought we should make a move. Slight problem, we had no idea of the address of where we were stayin, BIL had written it down, but he was nowhere to be seen. We knew roughly where it was, but our French was so appalling and we were so drunk, there was no way we could communicate the info. There was an upside, although not so good for BIL, Bokke had the keys in his pocket. A word of advice, never ever try to get a cab in Marseille after midnight as they don't exist. A dodgy looking geezer in a shagged out Renault accosted us, and by a mixture of sign language and yelling we figured out that he wasn't a taxi, but if we bunged him a few euros, he would take us home. It started well on the main road north, but after twenty minutes of aimless meandering around some of Marseilles less salubrious suburbs, and for the second time in fifteen hours, we were once again hoyed out of a French car. We wandered around the roundabout where we had been ejected. We both noted some interesting cactii, and we both concurred that we were a little bit fucked. Bokke wanted to take the high road, I disagreed, we were by the sea, we should take the low road. I was accused of being a prick and some house keys were flung in my general direction along with some mutterred Afrikaner insults, and then some Afrikaner horror when Bokke realised that he had just had a fissy fit, he had just thrown the keys at me, and they were nowhere to be fucking seen. Like I said, just like Paddington Bear. tbc..............................