So, I’ve been doing this thing called Ocsober. It’s a charity driven thing where you don’t drink for the whole month and your friends and family are so amazed by this that they pledge money to the really deserving cause. I’m not finding it terribly difficult, to be honest (although I feel like something of a social outcast!), but every now and then, I catch myself getting wistful about that time I drank that ice cold falunghina at that restaurant on the Amalfi coast (the one you could only get to by boat. Ahhh. The memories).
So while I’m getting all misty eyed, behold some of my fondest international drinking moments:
Bryant Park, New York
Bryant Park was one of my favourite public spaces in New York (the High Line also ranks right up there) and we spent several hours relaxing on the verandah of the pop-up bar at one end, watching the endlessly entertaining passing parade. There was a motley assortment of protestors trying to get a bit of a march going (they failed) and a group of young girls working on an impressive dance routine. Our waiter was delightfully helpful (meaning he kept the watermelon and vodkas coming) and, on a warm summer’s day, it was just about perfect.
Such a beautiful town, Bruges. Beautiful architecture, romantic canals, chocolate everywhere. And beer. Lots and lots of beer. The Belgians clearly have their priorities right. Around the picturesque square, there are heaps of bars and restaurants where you can indulge in beers the size of your head. And that’s exactly what I did.
And finally, my most memorable drinking moment was in 2009 in Cambodia. I was doing a cycling tour with Spice Roads (highly recommend them!) and we had a particularly tough day. It was a ninety kilometre section on dusty gravel roads from Pailin near the border with Thailand to the colonial town of Battambang. We’d picnicked in the shade of a monastery for lunch, while bemused novice monks looked on, then continued on in steamy heat. Cars and trucks threw up plumes of red dust. At about the 75km mark, I developed a stabbing pain in the back of my knee, but through gritted teeth (and sheer stubbornness) I kept going. When we rolled into the hotel carpark in Battambang, we were covered head to toe in red dirt. There were concentrated rivulets where the dust had mixed with sweat. When we took our helmets off, there were red dust patterns in our hair. The only clean part on our bodies was around our mouths because we’d been wearing dust masks. We had never looked sexier obviously. I almost wept with joy when our ever-smiling Cambodian guide dragged an esky over containing blizzardly cold Angkor beer. I have never been more refreshed by a beverage in my life.