The Fantastic Four were back in action and terrorising Europe again this week; this time in Groningen, Netherlands. Actually, the lineup has changed since the last adventures in Poland but some of the core group remains: Timmy, Ads, myself and our new inclusion to the team, Benni, man-ed up for one weekend of nightclubs, bars, sightseeing and early morning running sessions (hey, the training never stops right?).
My old Formula sparring partner in Holland, Christiaan, allowed us the use of his apartment for the weekend as I am currently living in a small village called Dokkum, which is way out into the backyards of Friesland (about 40 minutes drive from Groningen in the north of Holland) and a little too far to commute each night. After a small miscommunication between myself and Timmy (seems to happen to us quiteÂ a lot – mostly at Timmy’s end) whereby Timmy and Benni had caught the train into Amsterdam central from the airport (where me and Ads were waiting to pick them up!), we were back on our way to the North… to where the fun begins.
It may look like a lot of these Tour Diary entries are just about partying. Well you’ll notice there’s really only 3 that mention partying; that’s in 4 months of travel. Yes, I train PRETTY hard – some might be shocked to hear what an elite athlete does to their body on a daily basis – but another important part of the training is to have some time to unwind and destress after events, especially when you’ve been on the road for over a month. This was one of those weekends… and one like no other!
I lived in Groningen for most of 2006. In my time there I made an effort to meet the owners of quite a few nightclubs and made sure to know the doormen by name. Not all these people still worked/owned the bars the following year but it makes a difference when you’re a VIP at a club. Between myself and Christiaan, we had Groningen under our finger. Christiaan is in the cocktail business and knows most of the bar scene owners himself (mostly his customers), and likes to tip big when the service is good…. All in all, its nice to walk into a crowded bar and have drinks put in front of you before you’ve even ordered, when there’s another 70 people in front of you trying to order – even if those drinks are shots of Chartreuse, Barcardi 151 or Absynthe.
Friday night we basically hit every bar in Groningen. From Het Feest to the Enzo, Newscafe to the Drie Gezusters and even the secret-society clubs: Alberta’s etc… which you in fact have to be hardcore members of (but we have a few connections). Every night is a little different in Holland and this night was really all about the spinning bars in Het Feest (Dutch for “the Party”). A few hundred free drinks later and photos for the club website with the smoking hot bar-staff and we were on to the Blue Angel, everyone’s favourite after hours club…
I somehow managed to get the boys up for a run about 9am Saturday morning – I’m not about to waste all the work I’ve done fitness wise in the last few weeks and its nice to sweat out the toxins of the night before with an easy 12km incline run. By midday we were in the Grote Markt (Grand Market Square) in the centre of town for lunch and some sight seeing of the super old buildings and churches in the centre of town; it was also Carnival week and we did manage to hit up the dodgem cars at one point.
Saturday night was for the secret-society clubs of the Groningen students. Everyone who passes the door has to be a member, sworn in by some hideous frat-boy test the students have to do in their freshman year (kinda like the movie “Skulls” with that ugly guy from Dawson’s Creek in it). Its a pretty cool bar; head down the stairs into a large bunker with 50c drinks and plenty of eye-candy – then head further down the rabbit hole to a smaller bunker deep underground pumping out some heavy drum&base and breakbeat action.
Sunday was a busy day. I had to be in Calais, France, by 8pm to get a ferry to England for the final event of the Formula Tour for 2007. The boys had to be at Amsterdam airport by 4pm and Ads was following me to Calais to head back home to London. Despite the hangovers, we made the mission (by “we” I just mean “me”, because I was doing all the driving) and I headed straight down to Calais (another 3.5 hours past Amsterdam) to get the ferry… from the ferry I was in Dover by midnight and by 4am was at the south of the Isle of Wight (including another ferry from the mainland) … long day!
So that was my final mission with the Fantastic Four as I will be back in Australia in a few weeks and the boys will be back in London and settling in for the winter; unlucky!