A hurricane in the North Sea?

Esbjerg PedestrianArea

Esbjerg PedestrianArea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We hadn’t been told where we were going. The best man told us where to turn up and to pack for a few days away. Eventually, our coach, packed with rogues and vagabonds, turned up at a port. The terminal was chaotic. The departure boards told us our destination, Esbjerg. “Where the hell’s Esbjerg” asked Bob the Fish.

Eventually we boarded, an hour late, and made our way to the bar. Although the vessel was a glorified ferry, the operators had cruise ship aspirations and there was a full entertainment programme. The compere was a dead ringer for Dale Winton, just a little more camp. He took a shine to us and kept coming over to our table. Someone suggested he fancied Bob the Fish, although I doubt anyone believed that.

The crossing was rough and our drinks slid around on the ringed table. Although much of it slopped over the sides, we consumed enough to ensure a good night’s sleep in our tiny cabins. When we awoke, the ship  had docked and we made our way into town. We had a look around, but found ourselves inexorably drawn to Esbjerg’s only Irish bar, Hairy Mary’s.

The following morning, there was a compulsory sightseeing trip whilst they cleaned the ship. Our party split into those who were hung over enough to insist on staying on board  (including the groom to be) and those who went sightseeing (including myself and the best man). The tour guide introduced himself and the itinerary. It didn’t sound exciting.

“What do you think of my English?” he asked. The coach replied with a chorus of “very good” and “yes”. He explained that Danish children study English from the age of 5, but don’t start learning German until they reach 11. “You might think this is strange, as the only country we border is Germany. This is because we hate the Germans!”

He pointed out Esbjerg’s tallest building (which had burned down) and 3 enormous statues. He asked us if we liked them. Again, a chorus of “very nice” and “yes” from the coach. “We hate them” he said. “They were a gift from the German government.” He took us to a fish museum (which was more interesting than it sounds). Bob the Fish was in his element.

We eventually found ourselves in a quaint Danish village, when I received a phone call. It was the groom-to-be. He told me that the ship would not sail in the morning as planned so they were going to jump on a train over to Copenhagen and fly home. I passed him over to the best man and they had a blazing row.

When returned to Esbjerg, a storm had really taken hold. It was difficult to stand. It was even more difficult after a night in Hairy Mary’s. Making our way back to the ship involved leaning into the wind at a 45 degree angle. At one point, I turned my back to the wind and was astonished to see the road we’d just traversed submerged in water. The cars from the adjacent car park floated into the sea.

Panic reigned inside the terminal building. An angry mob had assembled at the enquiries desk. A German man at the front screamed at the lady behind the counter “You told me my car would be safe!”, every syllable punctuated by his fist slamming on the desk. Somehow, we managed to blag a flight home in the morning  for which we swore not to tell a soul and made our way onto the ship.

We told Dale Winton our story. He told the ship. A TV crew came on board to film the passengers. They interviewed us and Bob the Fish announced our free flights home on Danish TV. As we left to catch our flight, Dale Winton handed the best man a tape. He’d recorded our interview for us. He joked that recorded over his favourite porno. The best man looked very nervous heading through customs.

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