As we rounded the corner to approach our hotel, I wondered aloud where we might find some of this mysterious vin bon marché that tasted bon. I mean, we hadn’t noticed any place up to that point that carried any such thing.
Then there it was, right smack dab on our route. We had passed it more than several times the past two days, and we had no idea. It had an inviting chalkboard out front and everything. We were probably too busy paying attention and trying to figure out these bikes:
Quoi qu’il en soit (I’ll give you this one – anyway), we entered the shop, meager and apprehensive. “Bon soir!” the attendant proclaimed. “Bon soir!” I replied. As my eyes scanned one half of the store, Steve scanned the other. I spotted nothing but produce and weird imports before settling upon a 6-pack of Heineken cans. I began to convince myself this was good enough, and I readied to convince Steve when the old man came out from behind the register to interact with us.
“Are you lookeeng for zum affordeeble wine for thees evening?” We nodded and he madehis suggestion. (It was a choice red wine, fresh from the countryside.) We completed our purchase and continued on our way, one bottle each
As we neared our home base of operations, a thought occurred to Steve (again it was late, but to his credit, it didn’t occur to me at all). He was reminded of the fact that we didn’t possess a means to open our grape beverages. Quite frankly, I didn’t feel like turning back. And even though we could clearly see the bottles had those newfangled rubber stoppers buried deep in their necks, somewhere in my mind I knew we could open them. Again, upon entering the hotel lobby, he wondered if he should ask the concierge for a corkscrew. I didn’t know what the on-site drinking policy was, and I didn’t want to find out.
In our room, I scrambled through my belongings, surveyed the room. Steve rummaged through his stuff for any options. As I opened the drawer below le télévision, I turned instantly into MacGyver. I unscrewed the knob off the drawer, and even though the screw was flat, I started twisting it into the cork.
Steve readied to do the same, but my effort proved fruitless. He excused himself to run downstairs and ask. I decided to start pushing the cork in.
I retreated to the bathroom in preparation for any chance of spillage. I had to use my other hand to shove my finger into the bottle. As I made more headway, the more difficult the shoving in became due to the mounting pressure. I was pot-committed now – there was no turning back since no cork could reach it. Almost there, I kept telling myself. Almost there… There!
Purple juice exploded out the top past my finger. It sprayed like a aerosol can, hitting everything. The mirrors, the tile, the walls, the towels… me. It looked like a murder scene. As I promptly began cleaning to prevent staining (it discolored everything instantly), Steve returned, corkscrew in hand. We eventually plowed through those bottles, and took to the streets to seek out two more.
Our shop had closed, but a restaurant we stumbled upon sold us some of their stock. A customer/regular in that place recognized us as Americans and asked where we were from. We answered: Michigan, and he asked: Detroit? He had visited our home town often, and was fairly knowledgeable about the region. We soon parted ways after getting our second doses, and we almost missed the train to Belgium the next morning.
The rough ride coupled with my hangover caused me to do an impersonation of my first bottle.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Find out what kind of drinking deals a foreign city/country has way before you get there.