Saturday, 21 June 2014


The first stop for me in 1991 was in fact Marburg , Germany, a beautiful university town of around 70,000 residents. I had heard about the German Tennis League that was in need of players for their annual competition that lasted around 2-3 months. From all reports the German Tennis Clubs paid for the accommodation and expenses for all international players, such was their hospitality, plus their desire to be the best team in their province.
I had been given a name of a local player who apparently put the teams together but unfortunately for me he was away with his family.  I met some local players at The Marburg Tennis Club who I hit with for three days on the clay  as well as taking in the sights. The idea of playing Team Tennis had merit but the one guy I needed to speak with was not available. I had ideas of returning to Marburg toward the end of my trip to see him, unfortunately I did not get back there.
The three or four days I spent in Marburg however were an education , as always, anything you do in a foreign country is a learning curve in life. The youth hostel that was recommended to me was simply magnificent, it backed onto the River Lahn that the town was built next to, a river so cold in May that beers were chilled in it.
When I booked into the hostel I was immediately taken by it's location, the river, the trees, the view , it was quite simply a postcard, so what about my accommodation? I was given a room key that had three double bunks , I had a choice, anyone I liked, this was 'my room'.......
For about one hour, then the fun started. I may have fallen asleep at some stage but I was woken by a rather large noise, the banter of foreign voices, five German back packers to be precise.
I do not even remember how we introduced ourselves but these guys were good fun, drinkers, party animals, young blokes looking for adventure. Their's however was a little different than mine. I was trying to keep myself focused on tennis , there's was to drink as much German beer as humanly possible, something had to give. I believe deep down that I knew I was way too old to be trying to make a living from tennis, that's stating the obvious, yet part of me was hanging on to a slim chance. The rest of me was ready to party with five crazy Germans, I went with the odds.
I never forget the walk into town , cobble stone paths , a chill in the air and me trying to communicate with foreigners who talked funny.
 I do remember one guy, he was my 'translator' , he was the one who knew 'Aussie' well , I talked to him more than the others but I enjoyed their company. By the end of the night I recall walking home with these blokes and doing the usual stuff, kicking stray coke cans, talking gibberish, I felt part of the crew. I didn't drink as much as them , they were plastered, I did however enjoy the entertainment they provided .
Sleeping in a room with five mad Germans who were drunk was one of life's rare opportunities to experience 'culture' at it's 'finest'. The next day at around 4pm they were at it again , down at the river this time. With no fridge in the room how do five beer thirsty Germans get their beverages cold ? Put their cans in the river, yep that's how you do it, the river must have been 3 degrees. Twenty minutes chilling and they were into it again.
They had another 'screamer' that night, I had a night in watching the tennis, the Hamburg Masters was on and it produced possibly the most outrageous tennis match that I have ever witnessed.
The match was between two guys who were world's apart in mindset as far as the game was concerned , but it may just go down in history as the funniest game of tennis ever played. See you in chapter 2........
My next stop , Paris, by train     A Marburg Pub.     

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