338. “Irish Sangria” And More Rugby Trivia Than I Could Ever Need

After a wee wander round the Castillo beachfront, and the usual extremely late Spanish dinner, I got back to my hotel room fairly late. I had to be out of there at 5am, so I thought I’d best go double check I could actually check out at that time. It turned out reception was closed and wouldn’t be open until 10am the next day, but the bar was open, so I popped in to see what I should do.

At the bar, I was met with a rather bored Irish bartender who had spent the day dealing with a lot of difficult Italians who pretended not to speak English as he repeatedly informed them the bar was not, in fact, a BYO establishment. By gosh was he excited to find a fellow speaker of the mother tongue! Either that or he was a serious Chatty Cathy. Whilst trying to work out where to put my key in the morning, he insisted I try his latest cocktail innovation – “Irish Sangria.” Well I can definitely tell you that Sangria, banana liquer and whiskey are not going to be winning any awards any time soon, but it was a bit of a laugh and who am I to say no to free cocktails? Despite fiddling with the proportions according to my feedback it didn’t really get any better unfortunately, but it was a bit of a laugh whilst I maxed out my free wifi time.

Just as I was about to leave, one of the regulars came in, an old, alcoholic Welshman named Bruce, who turned out to be a very accomplished conversation trapper. The bartender mentioned I was from New Zealand and he was off out of the starting gates on the biggest rant about rugby and the All Blacks. I mean I know we all love the All Blacks in NZ, but by God I could not be less interested in hearing a play by play of the All Blacks vs Wales on the 31st of October 1972. Just as I’d got past politely listening and was ready to interject and make my departure, he begun to recite a poem about the game! It was actually quite amusing, and I was amazed that he knew this poem about the one time Wales beat the mighty All Blacks by heart. Though he was of the opinion he could only recite the poem whilst under the influence (I think that’s one of those things alcoholics say to make everyone laugh so they can justify their drinking), I got him to say it a second time so I could write it down because it was acutally quite entertaining. Or maybe it was just the Irish Sangria.

“It was a cold and windy day and a week that had seen some rain
When all roads lead to Stradey park with the all blacks there again.
They came down from the valleys they came from far and wide,
They were 20,000 in that ground and me and I outside.

Shops were closed like Sunday and the morn was cold and still
And those who chose who stay away were either dead or ill.
But those who went to Stradey will remember till they die.
How New Zealand were defeated and how the pubs ran dry.

For the beer flowed at Stradey , pumped down from Felinfoel,
And the hands that held the glasses high were strong from steal and coal.
And the air was filled with singing and I saw a grown man cry.
Not because we had won the game, but because the pub’s run dry.

Then dawned the morning after, on empty factories.
For we were still at Stradey, bloodshot absentees.
But we all had doctors papers and they all read just the same.
We all had scarlet fever, and we’d caught it at the game.

And when I’m old and my hair turns grey, and they put me in a chair,
I can tell my Grandchildren, that their Datcu was there.”

9-3 By Max Boyce, as recited by Bruce the drunk Welshman in Fuerteventura.

When I looked up from my computer after recording it, the bartender and the chef were dancing the YMCA on the bar. Supposedly they used to work at a bar where if YMCA came on all bartenders had to drop everything and climb up on the bar and do the dance. That was a good signal it was time for bed!
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303. The Catacombs

While most people have very romantic illusions of Paris, in reality throughout history it has had some serious issues with being a foul place and to be frank, still has problems with being much more dirty and smelly than is necessary. The stench of the Parisian metro system however, pales in comparison to the problems of the 1700s, where there were so many corpses that needed disposing of, and the cemetaries were so full, that water contamination and sickness were becoming huge problems.

Add to that the collapse of an entire street in 1775, into some of the 180 miles of underground mines in Paris, which lead to King Louis XVI created the Inspection Generale des Carrieres [or quarries], an agency that still exists. The Inspection Generale des Carrieres revealed that much of Paris was likely to collapse into the mines below, and spent a great deal of time strengthening and reinforcing the tunnels. As for the oversupply of bodies, it was decided that 6 million corpses would be dug up, and relocated to the now reinforced tunnels. Not content with simply shifting them, it was also decided that they should be arranged to decorate the tunnels, along with plaques with famous literary lines.

Many describe it as a beautiful way to be buried. I, however, am not too sure I would be happy with my body being dug up and turned into a tourist attraction, or even just taken apart and mixed in with the other bones…

It was also hard to know what happened to all of a body. I spotted plenty of sculls, pelvic bones and femurs, but where were all the rest? Thrown into a big pile somewhere?

Finally, a word of caution for visitors. The entrance is small, the tunnels are narrow and only a certain amount of people are allowed through at once. Which means the lines are reaaaaaaally long. We probably queued up for about 2.5 hours. I’m not sure if this is a place where you can buy tickets in advance to skip the lines either, so they could be unavoidable (if you are there in the peak of summer). Also not a good idea to get there in the last few hours that its open, I’ve heard stories of people lining up for an hour and half only to have the place close on them. Oh and one more warning, its creepy.
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