09 October 2007

Day 2 - Boulogne to Strasbourg

After waking up and vacating the weary hostel slightly late we made our way to the car, which fortunately had not been broken into. Boulogne looked a much nicer city in the soft daylight, however it was time to head off to Strasbourg, a historic city on the border of France and Germany, exactly on the border infact. Actually it s so close to the border that you can drive over a bridge in what looks like the middle of a city and suddenly find you have driven through passport control.

Strasbourg is a beautiful city, the rivers are lined with luxury boats and just over the road is the German town of Kehl, unsurprisingly similar in basic style, but still with its slight differences, for instance I suddenly didn't have the faintest what the signs meant, at least in France I had been able to dredge my knowledge of under funded school French

As we arrived at Strasbourg after a gruelling day (For Keith) Driving across France we were glad of the sight before us, the hostel, a bed and a shower would not be far away. Oh how wrong we were. After getting lost several times looking for the 'beautiful world famous gardens' within which our hostel would be we eventually found we managed to find the place. It looked very quite. Too Quiet....

Initially I had found this hostel using my internet browser on my phone, little did I realise at this point that browsing approximately 5 webpages had cost me about £20, at this point I would like to make a brake in my story to raise two fingers and say, ahem FUCK YOU O2. But yes, the hostel guide we had brought informed me of something which the internet had not. The hostel was closed for refurbishment. Infact both of strasbourg's hostels where closed for refurbishment. You may have noticed I missed out a capital S in that last sentence, it was not a mistake, the city did not deserve it. Especially when I realised the second hostel was also closed for refurbishment.

There was a third, but the directions in the youth hostel guide are next to useless, so we took a quick look in Kehl, were our hopes of hostel reprieve were momentarily brought to bear. We found a promising hostel in the guide, quite a large one. At this moment in time we were praising the Germans, but we still couldn't find the hostel. After a long weary drive around the city several times we decided to call it a night and headed to MacDonald's to relieve ourselves after the arduous travels of the day.

It was while Keith was in the bathroom I approached a German man who looked like he might know the city, hoping for some vague directions to the youth hostel.

This mans name was Harold

That should have been warning enough.

So after I attempted to speak my weak German to him, despite knowing all of 'hallo' and 'spreken zeee engelish' it turned out Harold could speak English quite well, well enough to take the piss out of the French for their abysmal knowledge of the language.

Harold was a pretty friendly guy, maybe just a little too friendly, but he said that he would drive to the hostel and we could follow in our car. At this point I was not worried, however when he stopped in a deserted street with a dark grassy park beyond a couple of ominous concrete bollards I began to have my first doubts. Needless to say I was just a little relieved when, as walking through a deserted park with a strange man I saw the familiar blue sign of the YHA over the horizon. Not so welcome was the darkened look of the reception. after trying the aged buzzer several times Harold finally got an answer from a gruff half asleep German on the intercom. This man in no uncertain terms spoke rapid angry German to Harold which probably involved where the weary English travellers could stick their needs of a bed for the night, and that we had missed reception close by about half an hour. Utter. Cunt.

As we walked back to the car I started to become a little worried, Harold was offering to drive us all over looking for a new hostel, he was infact one of those people who are just a little too helpful for comfort. After a cursory glance in the back of his car it also seemed as if he lived in it, not a good sign. Especially when he started offering to show us car parks to sleep in...

After he took us to a train station car park he left, probably utterly disappointed that neither me or Keith had offered to bend over for him. By a unanimous decision we decided that a train station car park with only a thin pane of glass between us and Harold when he knew our exact location was not an ideal sleeping spot. We headed off towards Munich and found quite possibly the most amazing service station ever to sleep in...

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