Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Madmen, muppets and a Macdonalds drive-thru.

We were told we were getting on the road at half past midday but knew better than to expect that to be accurate. I woke up fairly early, showered, shaved (with soap) and spent a few last minutes on my balcony before going down to reception to check out. Checking out is the easiest part of this trip - you just hand them your key, they hand you your passport (That you forgot they had) and you walk off. I spied Sully out the window as I walked down the stairs so gave him the classic English two-fingered salute. He responded with a classic Kiwi crotch-grab and the latest bonding session was complete. We assembled with Nick and Filip and awaited further instructions.

The view from my balcony window, ruined by my odd head.
Nino called Filip to say he would be late. Fortunately Sully had found a bar (like a good Kiwi) so suggested we walked down to it and wait there. We descended a lot of steps down to the marina and I thought to myself that I didn't fancy the walk back up. We got settled in a bar (After climbing unceremoniously over a Croatian MILF who was parked right up against the path) and were served by an absolutely gorgeous waitress who Filip was instructed to talk to as his Croatian was better than ours. He ordered a coke, a diet coke, a red bull, a mineral water and three coffees. She brought us two cokes, two expressos and a drink called "Burn". I decided to tell her the order was wrong in fluent English. She blushed, apologised and scurried off, returning moments later with the correct beverages, smiling and looking lovingly into my eyes in the process. Look it's my blog and I'll write what I like.

view from the cafe, ruined by Nick's head.
Nino arrived and sat opposite us with the organiser of the gig the night before. They talked money for an hour. We sat impatiently until they pointed us up to a restaurant a few steps up from the bar. We moved en masse and ordered pizzas and burgers for lunch, washed down with dark beer (Of course) and more water, eventually getting back on the road about 2.30pm. This journey didn't drag. We were supposed to be in Varasdin by 6pm and had to go via Zagreb so we could check back into the hotel from Monday night. I however had to be put in another one as there was a shortage of rooms. It was, ahem, effectively downgrading. They left me there and told me they would be back in an hour. They got back just before 6pm, by which time I had quickly checked my emails via my T-mobile dongle for no more than a quarter of an hour. The drive to Varasdin was about an hour, the last fifteen minutes of which were spent with the windows open. Luca wanted to show off about the lack of pollution in the Northern town. Our jaws dropped as we parked at the theatre. It was beautiful. Peter the (English) organiser was waiting for us. He had wanted to give us a full tour of the place and his obvious pride in the theatre was dented a little by our late arrival. The Slovenian guy from the Zagreb gig was again performing with us and had already sound checked. This made the job easier for the rest of us. I headed out into the courtyard to begin exploiting the beer tokens Peter had thoughtfully provided and we sat waiting for the latest sell-out show to start. Sully did another great intro and I dived into what was to prove to be my favourite gig of the tour. The theatre was a baroque fin de siecle masterpiece with a pit and three tiers and resembled The Muppet Theatre to the extent there was even a box with two people leaning over it judging us. There was also another twelve year old boy in the crowd, this time with his dad. This made the experience brilliant - the kid was made up that his father had taken him to the show, his English was brilliant and he loved the attention.

On stage in The Muppet Theatre, Varasdin
I left to great applause and headed back out into the courtyard (pausing only to "Unofficially Open" the theatre from the roadside) to reacquaint myself with barmaids Tina and Carmen who were (unsuccessfully) trying to teach me Croatian bar etiquette. By the end of the night I had successfully learnt to say "Thank you, beautiful bar lady" but hadn't spoken to the men. Filip called me a charmer.

On the way home we stopped at a drive-thru Macdonalds but walked through it as the people carrier was too wide for it. I ordered (And consumed) three Big Macs and it got a bit like the US show "Man vs Food" which I have previously abhorred as the last nail in the decadent coffin of The Western World. Hypocritical? Moi? I returned to the hotel and was told to meet Nino at 11am the next morning for an interview with the biggest publication in Croatia. I got up to my simple and totalitarian room, surfed the net with my T-mobile dongle for half an hour or so and dropped into fitful sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

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