After an early breakfast it was a 5 am departure from Bradford. The roadtrip was officially underway and it was a bad start for Viktoria as the CD player was not working, and the countless copied CD’s Petro had made almost seemed a waste. Not only was it a bad start for Viktoria, but Petro was still clearly getting used to Viktoria as he didn’t know how push Viktoria’s buttons to get the window wipers to work. With rain pouring down and 2 bad starts, Viktoria’s CD player sprung into life and began to work – at least one person was working!
It was the M1 for most of the journey and controversially “the best 3 hours of the trip” until the first pit-stop was reached. After a tour of London’s Luton airport, the 3 Musketeers arrived at Stepan’s house. There was a quick nosey of the apartment, Andriy made use of the facilities, quick re-pack of the car and it was time for Stepan to meet Viktoria.
Having exchanged quick pleasantries and then struggling to get out of the drive by almost crashing into the bins, this again did not bode well. Back on the M1 and heading south to Dover, it was on to the M25 for what was a little longer than we should have done. With team Luczka at the helm (Stepan still driving, Andriy navigating) came the first big decision of the trip. Who was to blame for the extra 40 mile detour and mistake? Big calls like this wouldn’t go unpunished on the trip so the stakes were high. After some light hearted ‘arguments’ Stepan took the first hit for team Luczka and conceded defeat. It was at this point it maybe would have been a good idea not to forget the sat nav.
Back on course and now heading down the M20, the white cliffs of Dover were fast approaching. Still on time we arrived at 10.30 and parked up in bay 214 waiting for our 12.05 ferry. A quick visit to the toilets was done before we started dressing Viktoria up with flag buntings of all 16 teams taking part in the tournament, something which was now mocked at, when originally thought to be a good idea.
With an edited version of the “Barbra Streisand” song, now called the “Oleg Luzhny” song blasting out from the speakers it was now 11.30 and time to board the ferry. Parked up we headed straight to the bar (something that will become standard in later reading) for beer number 1. The 40 mile mix up was still fresh in our minds and confidence was low as we got lost in our own country, let alone in a foreign country where we had never driven before.
Still, the beer was enjoyed and the UK and rain was waved goodbye to. On a quick, smooth crossing, beer number 1 turned into number 2 and by that point we were now arriving into Calais. Ewhen took to the wheel and drove the short distance from Calais to Brugge where the adventure would really begin. With no passport checks on arrival it was straight off the ferry and onto the wrong side of the road. After 5 minutes of driving and by pure chance we saw our first football stadium, where a quick stop off was made. Home to Calais RUFC a quick photo was taken at the Stade de l’Épopée before continuing on to Belgium. The stop off had clearly damaged our fuel economy and consumption as we had to stop off for fuel in a French service station.
As Ewhen was still behind the wheel it was his apparent poor queuing technique that caused some commotion that resulted in a small argument with some random pretty boy. This then resulted in the random calling Ewhen a Flid, somewhat an appropriate name for him, and the rest of us seemed to agree with the random. Whilst filling up the car, Ewhen was made aware that his fuelling technique was also Flid-like with the random behind him being able to hear all but not biting.
After an eventful drive thereafter, with diversions and road closures, Brugge was now beckoning and was team Chymera’s first bit of good fortune on the trip. Although they would never actually admit it, it was clear that they were lost on the outskirts of the city centre. Team Luczka were sitting quite smug in the back of the car, stirring things up in attempt to cause unrest in camp Chymera, until a random right turn led them to the street of the hostel. The smugness was quickly wiped off the Luczka’s faces and Chymera’s had a sweet taste of victory.
The car was parked up and we checked-in to the hostel. After walking up a dangerous set of stairs we then got into our room to find what looked like an American serial killer sitting on his bed staring at the wall. Needless to say it was a quick change, put our belongings in the safe and got out of the room as quickly as possible.
After a short walk through the narrow streets, we were standing in the main square and what better way to make plans and decide on what to do than have a discussion over a beer. Sitting outside on wet chairs and tables with rain drizzling down, we finished our beers and went on a walk through the city centre taking in the sights and everything that Brugge had to offer. As well as the castle and old styled buildings it turned out quite a lot of chocolate and lots of strong beers which we were not complaining about one bit. We then managed to stumble upon what is best described as a beer museum, where it would have been rude not to embrace the local traditions and have several beers. A few bars and beers later we moved into what felt like a sports bar where Petro seemed to have caught the eye of a local OAP who showed interest in him and advised us where to go. However, we were clearly the youngest people in the bar as they all looked like OAP’S who had a strange appreciation of motocross biking and their idea of a night out was probably somewhat different to ours.
It was now starting to get late and there was no great nightlife or vibe of a modern city. We decided to find one last bar, have one final beer before heading to bed. In our search for a bar, we managed to find somewhere with a bit of life. It turned out there was a group of English girls out on a hen-do. Here we started having a laugh with them by having a round of ICOB (International Cock or Ball) with one woman who was rubbish, with her friend scoring very high marks! Respect!
We were then introduced to their inflatable friend they had brought with them. Petro quite impressively managed to take off his boxers whilst keeping his jeans on, and they were then placed on their inflatable friend. To this day Petro’s boxers are still out there somewhere in Europe so if found please send them to him.
It was now the early hours and we made our way back to the hostel where the drinking continued and saw the introduction of drinking games. It wasn’t rocket science and all it involved was guessing whether the coin was heads or tails after flipping it, which you can imagine got boring after a while and so we moved onto a more technical drinking game. This involved in one person picking a leaflet from the stand in reception and the other person having to guess which leaflet was chosen. The forfeits weren’t just drinking related either as Andriy had to do 16 prysjadky while Stepan did 10 press ups. This was team Luczka showing that they were in the prime physical condition when compared to their Chymera counterparts.
At this point we called it a night and were thankful that all our belongings were safe, as we quietly tried to get into bed without waking up the serial killer.