June 16-18

Saturday June 16th

Slipp’d out of the campsite without paying, easily enough, & U-bahn’d it into town. Stock’d up on wine & jump’d on an intercity for quite a big jump to Jena. After a slick, quick-shuffle I was crusin’ along on a real nice train, listening to some German baroque thro’ my chairs in built radio. At last the countryside has begun to improve, with wooded hills rising out of the plain to the accompaniment of a refreshing deluge.

As I was a bit piss’d I miss’d Jena & had to blag my way back on another train, almost losing the TJ point to the Germans (6-0). An otherwise pleasant town is dominated by a giant GDR building call’d ‘Jena’s Willy’ – a tall grotesque amidst the charming streets. I open’d more wine with a corkscrew borrowed in an Italian café, then bludgeon’d my way towards the battlefield where Napoleon kick’d Prussian ass in 1806. The road travers’d a very steep hill & I proceeded to get lost in the woods after searching for a short cut.

Stumbling upon a nice spot overlooking the town, I decided to pitch camp & try the battlefield in the morning. With tall, rainfresh forest behind me & the hills & vales of Jena before me, I relax’d with the panoramic sunset. Later, to the crackle of an open fire, in the heady mist of a couple of bottles of red, I cook’d up some meat & wrote poetry. Then, as the stars came out, I slapp’d on my walkman & had a private party, dancing round the fire – well, it is a Saturday night. To one song in particular I felt the greatest of connections; Driftwood by Travis;

I’m sorry that you turned to driftwood
But you’ve been drifting for a long, long time


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Sunday June 17th

Woke up, pack’d up & march’d to the battlefield. It wasn’t particularly spectacular, so I made my way back to town. Fully cappucino’d I smok’d the bit of skunk that I found in my shorts (bonus) & hopp’d on a train north. After a day of no weed, the green hit home & I was duly caught for the first time this tour (6-1). I tried to explain to the guy he’d done well to catch me & it was cool, to which he replied from underneath his blonde handlebar mustache; ‘Is nicht cool! Is nicht cool’ & threw me off the train.

Taking my defeat like a man I embark’d on the 35 k march to Naumberg – my personal penance for conducting a terrible train jump – even if I was stoned. It turn’d out to be a very interesting stroll, partway spent in academic conversation with a Russian language teacher. I was fuell’d by the occasional roadside beer & sausage & cool’d by the occasional light shower, but by the fifth hour of walking I was pretty fuck’d.

Luckily the jump to Leipzig was easy (7-1), & I soon found myself meandering round the city (yet more walkin’) in search of the campingsplatz. I finally found it & gladly paid my cash for a sound night’s sleep. B4 bed I dined with a New Zealand family who told me that the forthcoming ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy has been film’d in their country. Cannot wait…


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Monday June 18th

The weather had turn’d overcast for my trip to Colditz (ix). After a few stops on the train I was kickt off by a pig-tail’d conductress (7-2). I thought I’d outwitted her, but she got me on the second sweep. That’s twice in two days & one of them was a girl – the shame! I hitch’d a lift to a town call’d Grossboten, where I bought 6 beers & caught a bus into Colditz. I arrived a bit drunk & stagger’d up to the castle’s gloomy courtyard where 4000 Allied prisoners once lived & appell’d. It was cool chillin’ there, but it soon began to chuck it down, so I blagg’d my way onto a guided tour with another ‘I’m a poet!’ I was soon absorb’d in the history.

Once the rain had died off I set off back – but had to contend with a massive fore-arm’d, skinhead Nazi bus driver. When I had bought my ticket earlier at Grossboten, the driver had misunderstood me sticking up two fingers & asking for a return, selling me two singles instead. The Nazi wouldn’t accept it & we almost came to blows, but I swallow’d my anger, said to myself, ‘The wars over, mate,’ & got off the bus. Fortunately, the next but to come along was driven by the guy who sold me the tickets in the first place – problem solv’d!

The bus went all the way back to Leipzig, where I took in the city’s atmosphere. At one point I brows’d thro’ a bookshop’s collection of German poetry. It seems a little like English poetry, but there’s not much of it & written in a romantic gothic lettering. Bought a book of Goethe’s poems, with English translation, & wander’d thro’ his pages over a fine beer. I made my way back after sunset & found Leipzig to be very oppressive at night. There are hardly any streetlights & you feel like you are in a poor communist country. I was rather reliev’d to get back to my tent without being murder’d.

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