Thursday, June 19, 2008

Turkey - June 2008

In the middle of winter Ange’s suggestion for a flat sailing trip to Turkey was well received. From there the idea spawned and before you know it we had 14 keen punters and two 42ft yachts arranged for a weeks sailing in June. Was choice. Turkey is a beautiful place – the people are so friendly and colourful, very genuine and just love to talk and help. We sailed the boats about 250miles over the week, starting in Gocek and heading south down to the sunken city of Koykova. I think we had the perfect mix of towns, villages and deserted bays. For Jas and I as captains our job was easy with the help of such patient helpful and easy going crew.

The sailing was good, and with a fairly rough 12hour sail back in 30knots on the nose I think everybody got a taste of what it can be like. Full credit to everyone though as despite no sleep and lots of sea-sickness on the final night I never heard a single complaint (except for maybe Smarty about the temperature of the beer).

The highlights for me would have to be:

1. Herby’s limitless energy and constant general rifraf

2. A night out in Kalkun with Smarty, Paul and the girls resulting in Jazzy incoherent on the wharf by the boat telling passer by’s she was going to swim back to UK. We got a lock-in in a secret bar and with the help of the ladies distracting the barmen with marriage proposals etc managed to empty a few bottles of spirits and practically own the bar.

3. Getting dirty at the end of the trip in some mudbaths.

Anyone that knows us can imagine what the trip was like so less talk more pics. Here you go.

I think being captains gave me and Jas the edge with the ladies

Herby and Jas

Stat ue' bro!

The local harbour master

Dancing on the bar (with Nae being DJ and Jaz serving drinks we thought we owned the place!)

Latvia April 2008

In about October last year Nae nae took on the mammoth task of organising 15 people on a surprise trip to Latvia for Smarty’s birthday. Somehow we managed to keep it quiet right up til meeting the Smarts at Stansted airport, setting the foundations for a big weekend.

Riga was great and obviously it was hard not to have fun with so many friends. However the trip did prove to be quite a costly one for Jas and myself…. Following an all night bender we ended up in some of Riga’s finer clubs and ordered the 2 most expensive drinks of our lives – A beer and rum, and a bill for £250.! F*&k off…. Despite those words leaving our mouths about 100 times the bill didn’t reduce and with threats of the mafia and police from the clubs heavies Jas and I were happy to empty our wallets and settle on £120.

On the Sunday we dragged our drunken and wounded bodies out to the Baltic sea on local transport. I think the 30p train ride making us feel slightly better about our contribution to the Latvian GDP the night before. And Shane even went for a birthday dip.

Oh and I also shot the biggest machine gun I’ve ever seen and it nearly took my arm off.

Venice – March 2008

For the easter weekend I went to Venice with Linda. We timed it well and managed to meet up with Linda's friends Ollie and Emma. Was a really great weekend and as touristy as it was we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. But we did get lost everytime we left the hotel....

Ireland Febuary 2008

I spent a weekend down in Kerry catching up with Kris and Karren (friends I met in the Azores) and her friends. I spontaneously booked the flights and on the day of departure realised I had done so to the wrong Irish airport…! Muppet. After 5 hours of driving I arrived in my hire car at 4am, just in time to grab a pint of Guiness before bed. Really cool down to earth little spot in the wop wops, was amazing to see where I had ended up in the day light.

I met some amazing people that weekend - the girls had been on so many crazy adventures (Karen was the first girl to Kayak around Ireland and her two friends had just come back from the Antarctic and Arctic Kayaking). I met a guy who had sailed the horn a few times and even someone who’d climbed Everest!
It was a good active weekend that involved Kayaking, walking, biking and of course lots of drinking.

Andorra - Feb 2008

For Jason’s birthday the usual crew got together again for a 4 day weekend of snow in Andorra. The weekend consisted of us celebrating in the usual way resulting in little sleep (for probably most of the guest’s in the hotel) and lots of snowboarding / après ski shinanigans.

Smarty had a clever scam to save the €3 ski resort parking charge by sneakily lifting the barrier arm as we were leaving. However I guess the CCTV paid off for the car park in this case as after the next days skiing we found the wheels had been clamped on the car. It took 3 hours of pigeon Spanish from Smarty and I to come to an agreement with the Andorra parking staff and Policia, seemingly happy with a €300 fine. Wonder if we’ll ever learn…..
The trip did finish however with 20cm of fresh snow and the best days boarding most of us had had in years – It was a nice way for Jas to have his birthday and ensured smiles on all our faces for our remaining four days at work while our bodies recovered.

Enjoying the 'free' samples in a local brewary (especially Paula!)

Egypt - New Years 2008

This is the Egyptian football team that beat the kiwi's 25 - 1

For the Christmas / New year break the Smarts, Rich Jas Paula and I took off to Egypt. I arrived a little after the others having spent Christmas with relatives in England and met the crew in Dahab.

Dahab would have to be one of the most relaxed places we’ve ever visited and has a good young person / back packer feel about it. We hired dirt bikes, rode horses but the highlight would have to be diving the Blue Hole. Think we all agreed it was the most impressive scenic dive we’ve ever done, a big call I guess given how mint the diving can be back home.

After New years in Dahab we headed to Cairo – well worth a look (for a day or two). Pretty unique and crazy place. Saw the pyrimads and tombs / temples etc, so impressive but hard to take it all in. Also managed a trip out to the Suez canal too. Loads of funny stories etc, some that spring to mind... Spending the morning playing football with some kids in Dahab, Jas embarassing an flirting Eqyptian by dirty dancing with her in a resturant and finally me accidently tipping a waiter the equivalent of a months wages thinking I was giving him a pound.

Had a bit of a funny trip back to the UK. We flew Czech Airways on a flight from Cairo to London via Prague, only I lost my tickets in Prague and got stranded there for the weekend. What could have been a disaster turned into quite good fortune when some friendly Czech airways crew took me under their wing. Dressed in shorts and flipflops and with no clothes (it was snowing), they lent me clothes and took me out for a great night on the town. I shouted the 3 of them dinner and drinks all night and it only ended up costing me £35!

Was well buggered when I arrived back in London late on Sunday night but still smiling ear – ear.
The nice aircrew that looked after me in Prague - Cheers!

More pics on Nae’s blog