Graz: A Tale of Plums and Bums

Posted by Olly on August 13, 2004, 03:33:50 PM

Due to the incompetence of two parties our trip to Graz quickly became a nightmare to organise.  Firstly, Jim.  He unbelievably managed to ask both myself and Bucharest John to book him a flight, which we did.  This left him with two flights, to two different places, at two different times.  Quite how he expected to use both flights is beyond me, and proved beyond him, as he suddenly realised that he couldn’t afford to go anyway!  The phrase “you fucking plum” was used more than once.  Secondly, our wonderful club managed to confirm the game, only for the date to then be changed.  Cue huge panic as everyone tried to arrange alternative flights.

So it was with some relief that Alan, Dave, Bucharest John and myself eventually reached Graz.  Having to wait an hour for the next train into town didn’t appeal to us, so we attempted to board a bus to our hostel.  Tickets were 1.70 Euro but as I found out, if you handed over a 2 Euro coin, you received 2.70 Euro in return.  Not only that, but as the bus was full, the coach driver handed a taxi bloke 25 Euro to take us there instead.  Fantastic.

After determining how many of us snore (3 incidentally), Dave was stuck with me as a roommate, and 20 minutes later we were in the pub next door sampling the local beer.  As we wandered towards the city we noticed the large number of classy naked lady establishments on almost every street.  A mental note of their location was made, before finding a pub for some food.  A very moody waitress took our order, before returning with four meals.  Dave had somehow managed to order a plate of fishfingers and chips, accompanied by a choc-chip muffin.  All he needed now was a party hat and a bib!

Graz has a beautiful city centre, and the evening was spent wandering round it drinking in various bars.  One such place had a very high proportion of men in it – oh, all right then, it was full of men.  After getting our beer, we slowly edged away from the bar to the table football, where two lads immediately challenged us to a game.  John and I got hammered 10-1 by the very strong wristed lads.  Dave and Alan faired much better, but this was hardly surprising as it was their idea to enter the gay pub in the first place – make of that what you will.  As Kylie’s voice came out of the jukebox, we made our excuses and scarpered.

After a number of messages from and to Jon Hall, including one where I simply told him that we were in square E5 of my map, we met up with Gareth and him, and headed to a Kangaroo bar.  The bar man took an instant liking to his 6 customers, and gave us all a shot of “harrikarri”.  This was just as revolting coming out, as it was going in, but made us suitably drunk.

A decision was made to go to Venus bar, due to the memories we had of a similar named place in Sofia last season.  Here, surrounded by beautiful ladies, I took a strategic kip, only to be woken by the bar man shining a large show business type spotlight on my head, to the amusement of everyone.  A few over priced beers and some entertainment later, we decided to leave only to notice that Alan had disappeared.  Later it emerged that he had tried to get a taxi back using the only word of German he knew – “Hauptbanhof”.  An hour later, outside the train station, with Alan muttering to himself that he was lost, the taxi driver asked him, in perfect English, where he wanted to go, and promptly dropped him home!

The next morning, and after a breakfast of paracetamol and water we went and found the club officials hotel to pick up our tickets.  Our good friend Ged Poynton was there again, but to be fair to him this time, he actually seemed fairly happy to be handing out tickets, unlike his childish attitude in Bucharest.  We were also told that the club treats its fans fairly (!!), and that if we wrote to the club secretary regarding the extra cost caused by the date change, we would get a response. We’ll see.

We jumped on a tram to take us to the Arnold Schwarznegger Stadium, and sorted ourselves out with scarves. John wanted to buy a shirt for his sons, but had forgotten how old and what size they were. Old age you see.  We then popped next door to the Sturm Graz bar for a quick drink. 2 sips in to his water, and Dave was looking yellow. Stumbling towards the toilets he stopped, and was promptly sick all over his feet before stumbling into the ladies toilet to finish the job!

10 minutes later, with Dave and the floor cleaned up, we headed back to the town, and met up with Jon, Gareth, Aidan and Dan for a few beers and some food.  In a restaurant I had to get on to Dave’s shoulders to put up the Purple Bins banner. Aidan helpfully then informed us that he was tall enough to reach the awnings himself. Thanks.

Fully fed, we headed to the usual Irish bar to meet up with a few of the other lads.  A load of reds were here, and banners had been hung from balcony’s creating a typical European sight.  We met up with Luke, carried on drinking, and followed him in his singing.  A few cracking songs came out, both old and new, and at one point Luke brought out a few song books he’d had made up – very funny as he passed them round.  I had my usual strategic nap for a few minutes, before we made our way towards the ground again, courtesy of the free trams.

The game was OK – nothing special. There had been rumours going round all day regarding Mickey leaving.  He didn’t play so it looks as though he’s off.  He got a few songs belted out towards the end, which was good to hear.  Good luck to him, he’s done us proud at times, but it will be a huge shame, and a huge hole to fill if he does leave.

At half time, I’d decided that the game was over.  I had no idea we had a whole half left, but was quickly, and probably rightly, ridiculed as a result.  As we took the banner down at the end of the game the lads came out to warm down.  Very strange not seeing Sammy there.  Riise came out a little late, and was forced to do four laps of the pitch on his own, as we watched on, sang his name, and then shouted at him to put more effort in.  Fair play, he took it all in the light-hearted manner it was meant.

After the game we headed back to the Irish bar, as the flight-option lads headed home.  Met up with Pete, Bungle, Mark and Steve, and had a long sing song till the bar shut.  We wandered round the town for a while, attempting to find more beer, and but could only find more naked ladies.  Strangely our beds seemed a better prospect, and so we stumbled back to get some much needed sleep.

Graz is a great place. The people, as with so many we meet on these trips, were really friendly, the beer was good, the food was cheap, and the city is beautiful.  Another cracking trip, and to top it all off, we actually made our flight with more than five minutes to spare this time.

© Olly 2004

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