First night on Ton Sai. Ko Tao is now behind me, and it's been a week since I saw any of my diving friends from Sairee. And who should I happen to bump into — walking right past me on the beach — but Caroline! Turns out that she's been here — along with all the Canadian dudes from the course — for a few days. Naturally, I was obliged to join my old buddies for a few drinks tonight: especially since it's their last night in Ton Sai, with their destination for tomorrow being the island of Ko Phi-Phi. It seems that there's only one thing, and one night, that everybody remembers about me from Ko Tao — when the crew first saw me this evening, they all greeted me with: "hey, it's vomit boy!" Uhhh... yeah, thanks guys :\.
After a difficult and lonely afternoon of separation — hell, it must have been almost 5 hours — this evening, we the Open Water crew had a grand and long-awaited reunion. It's been a while, but it was good to see everyone again :P. To celebrate, we drank the legendary farang beverage of southern Thailand: the bucket. Buckets come in two sizes: huge, and f$#%ing huge. Their contents generally consist of whisky, Red Bull and Coke; but they also come in numerous other, more exotic varieties (and, should you drink them on Ko Pha-Ngan of a full moon, less legal varieties :P). Tonight was my first bucket-drinking experience: and please G-d, may it be my biggest. Because if it gets any worse than it got tonight, then I'll be dead.
After a few drinks at Cat's — and something else at Cat's, that was rather less pleasant — a big group of us went down to Plaza del Sol, Madrid's central square, to welcome in a Happy New Year ("Feliz Año Nuevo") madrileño-style. Emmanuelle, her Dutch friend, Miguel, Dan, Matt, Kenny and myself headed to the plaza together — although almost the entire hostel went there at some point; not to mention almost all of Madrid at large. It was mad, it was flamboyant, and it was without doubt the most jam-packed crowd I've ever been in. But it was certainly unique. And because this is Spain, midnight was just the beginning.
It was a long night, and it was a good night. Sadly, it was also my last night: Kitzbühel après-ski, I'm going to miss you! After our fun and games at Snowbunnys, Jake and Mitch, Nikolas and Viktor and myself hit the usual pub crawl route: we started at Flannigans, and then eventually moved on to Highways. Flanny's was mainly about the drinking (and the passive smoking — f$#% that place stinks), and Highways was mainly about the dancing. All of it was about partying like only an Austrian mountain village knows how. I got back at about 4am — considering that Jake and Mitch were asleep on the breakfast table the next morning, I hate to think when the hell they returned.
As with the previous two nights, my final night here at Yoho in Salzburg was a blast. No need to go out: more than enough fun to be had, simply by "going out downstairs" — and considering the cold, that's the best type of going out you can do around here. Big group, lots of beer-drinking (and mainly "wheat beer", which they have on tap at the Yoho bar, and which I far prefer over other beers), plenty of card-playing, and plenty of laughs. I'm really going to miss this place: and it's hard to believe that my next destination is probably going to be even better! Austria, you're giving me a good run.
Salzburg may be politically part of Austria; but geographically, it's actually much closer to Bavaria. And when it comes to beer, it's clear that the closeness is measured by more than mere kilometres. The Augustiner Bräu is where Craig, Sarah, Kade, Lisa, Thierry, Wilson and myself went tonight — for something to drink, and for something to eat — and it's the kind of place that could only possibly exist somewhere whose heart is of Bavarian fibre. I kid you not when I say: the Augustiner Bräu is a beer hall that has been operated for centuries by Augustine monks; that serves the Augustine beer that the monks themselves brew and copiously drink; and that is physically connected to the monks' fully-functional church. Of course — this being the crazy beer-religion-wotzdadiff place that it is — all that is perfectly normal and acceptable. Anyway, all I can say is that these monks sure do a good job, because they brew some of the best beer known to mankind; job satisfaction is no doubt a part of life for them.
This evening, our friends and amazing hosts Tara and Ashki took off north, for a semi-weekend getaway in leafy Vermont. So as of now, my dad and myself are all alone in the big house. It's party time! Call the band, call the DJ, call the caterers (parve please — this is a kosher house :P) — and tell all your friends to get down to Newton Center. Doritos and tomato salsa also welcome.
This was it: today was Adam's barmitzvah! In the morning, we had the service and the torah call-up; and in the afternoon, we had a colossal lunch in the shul hall. All of this was at the conservative synagogue that my cousins go to, just down the road from their house in Newton Center. Adam did a great job on stage: read his portion very confidently, and gave a solid and well-intentioned speech. And needless to say, the lunch was scrumdiddlyumptious.
When we returned from our Dos Rios hike this evening, the Italian guys invited us back to their guesthouse, for some drinks and a barbeque. Well, as with today's hike, the get-together turned out to be as late as it was chaotic: but in the end, it happened, and it was a great night out. All six of us from the hike showed up, as well as my mate Tom, and Larissa (who was feeling better by the evening), and a few other random friends of the group.
This morning I woke up in my bed, and looked around in utter confusion. How did I get here? I had no memory — none whatsoever — of retiring to bed last night. All that I remember about last night was: I'd gone up to the bar (without having had dinner — biiig mistake!); I'd had quite a few capirinhas with some friends up there; at some point, I'd changed into my swimmers and jumped into the jacuzzi; and after, I'd gotten out and kept talking to people. Then, my memory stops — completely blacks out. However, after talking to some of my roommates this morning, I think I've got a pretty good explanation of why that is.