Saturday, August 30, 2008

Beginner's Luck


Motorcycle Adventure Travel | James Bond Playing Baccarat(Munich - Saturday, August 30, 2008) The bus ride to Zagreb was long, uncomfortable, and nondescript. The sun was just starting to come up as we entered Zagreb and I wasn't looking forward to the long walk from the bus terminal to the train station. At least it's not raining!

The walk wasn't as bad as it was two years ago when I made this trip in reverse. There wasn't many people out at 5 in the morning and the sun wasn't beating down hard yet. Plus knowing the way helps tremendously. So after a brisk walk I make it to there with plenty of time to spare. None of the kiosks are open so I plunge into my daypack to eat a sandwich that I brought along with me. I have a beer in my pack as well but even I have my limits.

I'll wait until at least 6am before I start drinking. If I were already drinking that would be a different story then the rule is don't stop drinking until you pass out.

I buy my ticket to Frankfurt and notice that it is alot cheaper than my ticket from Munich to Zagreb last year. I found out later that you save tons of money if you buy your tickets in the Eastern countries as opposed to Germany or Austria. I love traveling by train. It has to be one of the most civilized forms of transportation. The route to Frankfurt requires that I change trains a few times but that's good too. Gives me a chance to see more places and people. When we get to the Slovenian border the police come aboard and ask for passports. One of the guys I'm sharing a berth with gets into a heated discussion with them and is then removed violently in handcuffs. It's at times like this that I truly enjoy having a blue passport from Canada.

My first stop is Ljubljana Slovenia. I spent a night here last year and I had a great time. It's a beautiful city with a gorgeous river running through it. The people are nice and the food is excellent... and so are the prices. I have about 15 minutes before I need to change trains so I grab some refreshments. I remember how terrible the Union beer (basically the only brand of beer they sell in this country) was so I opt for a small bottle of gin with some Schweppes Bitter Lemon to mix with it. I nab a couple of cups from the cafeteria and get on the train.

This train is packed but I manage to find myself a berth. My luggage is uber heavy and I have to get down and power squat the damn thing into the overhead. People are looking at me and wondering if I have gold bricks inside. Gold bricks? No. Gold beer? Yes!

When we get to some small town in Austria I'm forced to change trains again. I have to book it to make my connection. One thing I know about the Austrians is they may look and act all casual, but nothing ever leaves late or early. They only have one time here... on time! I get a berth but when the conductor comes to check my ticket he tells me I've chosen improperly and that I will have to change berths as this one is reserved. There are no berths available now so I leave my luggage in place and head to the bar. It's nice not caring if someone steals your stuff. It allows you far more freedom of movement. Plus, having a suitcase that ways 72,824 kilograms makes even the most cunning thief think twice.

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Austrian Train Station

You really have to hand it to the Germans when it comes to their trains. They have by far the best bar cars out of the European fleets. I order a pint (actully half liter but I'll never call it that) and wait for my moment. There it is! This couple gets up and walks away from there seats and I swoop in ahead of the other couple I saw eyeing them up. Tough luck for them. They could have moved faster if they weren't burdened with their luggage.

The half liter turns into 3 liters and a bratwurst very quickly as the train chugs through the Austrian countryside. By the time we reach Saltzburg I'm half in the bag and I've been recruited into a game of Baccarat with a group from Denmark.

"How do you play Baccarat?", I ask innocently.

"We'll teach you", says the young, yet overly large, Danish lad named Karsten

A month of playing Baccarat in Sicily back in the early nineties combined with the arrogance of a true James Bond fan gets mistaken for beginners luck as I'm up 35 Euro. Not to mention the fact that I've switched back to gin as my primary intoxicant just to keep in the 007 mood. By the time I reached Munich I was up 40 Euros and I had to bid my Danish friends Hej hej (farewell).


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