It was dark, too dark. I’m not one for irrational fear but as the dim light of my phone faded into the night I could only think of one thing, how did I end up here and at what point was the knife wielding maniac going to catch up to me? For you, readers it might appear that this is the start of some nightmare scenario, perhaps a tale of horror and blood curdling terror. You would be paradoxically both correct and incorrect in this assumption but for me this is how my St Patrick’s day ended. Alone, in some God forsaken part of Bavaria and lost in a wood. This was not how it was meant to be.
Like the best jokes my Sunday morning began with an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman, a Mexican and a guest appearance from a Kiwi walking into an Irish bar. With a turn out this strong how could my first St Patrick’s day celebration in Germany be off to a better start. If you are looking for a finer example of an international community than this, you better get yourself to Brussels or the UN offices in New York. I can tell you though that those guys will not offer as much fun as was to be had in an Irish Bar in a forever green part of Nürnberg. As if to further emphasise the multi-cultural experience, the whole thing had been organised by a Dutchman.
The phenomenon of Irish and English bars in Germany is worth a quick mention, and it should be said that you’re rarely more than a kilometre from one at any point. The Irish diaspora has made itself quite at home in Germany and should a fellow emigrant miss their motherland it’s easy to walk into one of the establishments and feel like you’re back in your very own local. OK, more accurately it’s an Irishman’s local but the dank nature, expensive beer and possibility of crap pub food is enough to remind anyone of their favoured drinking hole. They are also fairly popular with German natives, giving them a priceless glimpse into the world of British and Irish drinking that they would usually only get via a three hour flight.
So that’s how my day began, Guinness and traditional Irish music that I couldn’t fully understand, and to be honest I didn’t really need to. But how did I get from this little slice of heaven to my later terror-fuelled nightmare in an inhospitable landscape that appeared to be the last great adventure of my life ? Well to answer that I would have to point out the Guinness, it was a major factor after all, but there were also others that should not be overlooked.
Having imbibed in a moderate and careful manner, and avoided a late attempt by some to introduce Jägerbombs to the equation, I proceeded in an orderly fashion to the train station. With enough time to buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee I stepped onto my train and headed back to what I hoped was the warm embrace of my long suffering girlfriend. Now, as a seasoned veteran of British student drinking culture, I know two things to be self-evident when out on the lash:
1.) Never eat a kebab made in Britain.
2.) Never, and I mean never, fall asleep on public transport.
Sadly I managed to adhere to number one but entirely failed to respect point two. I awoke to see a group laughing in my direction, and being a rather sharp fellow, ascertained that I happened to be the object of their hilarity. Why this was the case became apparent quickly. I had slept through most of the journey, the fifteen minute stop at my final destination and was now merrily making my way back to my original point of departure. After making a careful mental note of my abusers’ faces in order to exact retribution at a later date, and then thoroughly checking my facial features for signs of rudimentary penis drawings and swear words (none by the way, amateurs!) I got off at the next stop.
The main problem I now faced was two-fold; where am I and which way is home? Apparently my mobile phone contract advertised excellent 3G access, so of course the first thing to fail was this feature. As luck would have it I had managed to find myself and my home as dots on the screen but no map or idea of the lay of the land. No problem, I mused, I’m a man what is the worse thing that could happen…and that’s how I ended up in the middle of the woods, praying to all Gods (real and imagined) to get me out of there with the minimum of stab wounds. Thankfully, some one was looking out for me. Who? Well it wasn’t fucking Thor, I can tell you. It turns out my girlfriend knows me well enough, and was not entirely surprised at my predicament. With the power of WiFi, she guided me back to civilisation. I proceeded to thank her by snoring and occasionally waking her up to complain I couldn’t sleep. I am such a catch!