Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Best Europe Story You Will Ever Read!

It wasn't the beginning, but it was the one event that will always stick out in my mind as the beginning. I had been in London for less then 24 hours and I was on my way to Buckingham Palace. Now Buckingham Palace is rather large and their is a rather long walk up a street with a grassy median to get there. They call this area "the mall". When royalty or nobles would come to visit the King and Queen, the mall would be lined with crowds of people and trumpets cheering on the coaches as they traveled the kilometer to the gate.

I was at the beginning of the one kilometer walk down the mall to the palace when an old man hobbled up next to me. He asked in a thick Australian accent, "Excuse me is this the way to Buckingham Palace?" and he motioned in the way we were walking with his cane. I looked at him and noticed he was wearing a Fedora, a brown trench coat, and clasped an old cane in his right hand.

I then said, "Yep, It's straight forward about a kilometer."

He smiled and said, "Your not British, where are you from?"

"The U.S."

"Well you look British, why aren't you from England?" he asked.

"Because I'm not." I said.

"Well my name is Edward and I am from Melbourne Australia!"
He then went on to talk about how he was an antiques dealer and started asking me questions about what I did for a living, why i was in europe, about my family? and in return I asked of him the same. I found out he was going to be traveling to Los Angeles soon, so I gave him some advice on where to go and what to see.

We were about half way down the length of the mall by this point and Edward changed the subject to world politics. He asked me, "So your president he is in office for 5 years, correct?"

"No,"I said,"He is in office for 4 years"

"Really, you think so?"

"Yes, it is 4 years, I'm positive!"

"Well In Australia it is 5 years and I could have sworn yours was 5 years as well."

"No it is definitly 4 years, because I can't wait to vote for a new president!"
Then he said something odd, "Really, you think so. Do you want to make a wager?"
I replied, "No, I don't want to make a wager, I don't want to take your money. It is definitly 4 years."

"Oh, Ok."he says and then changes the subject to something else that is going on in the world. For the rest of our conversation about the world, the economy of countries, etc.. whenever I would disagree with him about something he would ask,

"Really, you think so. Do you want to make a wager?" and each time I replied, "No I don't want to make a wager."

Eventually we came to Buckingham Palace and Edward asked me his final question, "So how many people do you think live in the United States?"

I said, "About two hundred and fifty million."

"Really that is alot of people, are you sure there are that many? Because in Australia there are only nineteen million people and Australia has to be close to the same size as the U.S."

I said, "No I don't think it is close to the same size, there are definitly somewhere around two hundred and fifty million people living in the U.S."

"Really," he says, "that seems like an awfully big number."

"Well, there are at least nine million living in Los Angeles alone, so I'm pretty sure it is around two hundred and fifty million."

Then he says, "Well do you want to make a wager?"

I replied, "No I do not want to make a wager, but why do you keep asking me if I want to make a wager?" And then this happened.

Out of his back pocket he pulled one hundred thousand pounds in bills wrapped ina rubber band. He related to me how for the last week he had been staying at a casino and every night he would go the casino and win money, which brought his grand total in winnings to one hundred thousand pounds. I told him to put the money away before someone robbed him and he agreed and shoved it back into his pocket. Then he explained how tonight was his last night in London and he needed to lose a bet or he would go back to the casino and gamble away his fortune. And what a better person to lose money to then a young man who had spent the morning talking and walking with him.

I stared at him awestruck and said, "I'm a poor backpacker, I don't have a one hundred thousand pounds to gamble with."

He laughed and said, "No not for one hundred thousand pounds, for something much smaller like two hundred pounds."

Again I said, "No, I can't that is like four hundred U.S. Dollars and I am at the beginning of my trip, I can't afford to lose that much."

"Ok, Ok." He says, "I'll make a deal with you. If you win I'll pay you two hundred pounds, but if I win you only have to pay me one hundred pounds."

I looked at him and said, "What is the wager?"

He says, "Two Hundred and Fifty million, Do you think higher or lower living in the U.S.?"

So I took the bet. I chose lower because I totally second guessed myself and shook his hand. We then spent the next forty five minutes wandering around London asking every police officer and taxi driver we came across where we could find a book store. We eventually found one and I walked inside and picked up a 2006 almanac. Before I could open it, Edward stopped me and said, "Wait, Look up Australia first." So I looked up Australia and their are ninteen million three hundred and thiry thousand people living there. Then I flipped it open to the U.S. and read that there are two hundred and ninty three million people living there. I was forty three million people off and I had lost.

I said, "I can't believe I lost"

Edward said, "Your not suppossed to lose, your suppossed to win, now I'm going to go to the casino tonight and gamble my money away."

"Well,"I said,"I guess I owe you one hundred pounds."

"Yes, you do!"

"Well,I don't carry that kind of money on me, so we have to find an ATM." With that Edward and I walked down the street about one block till we came to an ATM.

I said, "Wait here and I am going to go stand in the queue and get your money."

Edward, motioning to a bench said, "Ok, I'll be sitting over there on a bench." I then stood in the queue for the ATM and got his money. When I turned around, Edward was not sitting on the bench where he had motioned before, instead he had crossed a street and a small park and was sitting far away waving his arms in the air to get my attention. So, frustrated that I had to walk so far, I trudged across the street and the park till I came upon him sitting on the bench. He says, "What are you doing here? Why didn't you run away? I walked all the way over here hoping you would just run away"

I stared at him and said, "That would have been a good idea, I wish I had thought of it, but I lost a bet, so here is your one hundred pounds." and I held th emoney out to him.

He then said, "Wow, Stickler that is so honerable of you, no one would come over here and actuelly pay the money. Your going to come out of this better then if you had won the bet."

And then this happened, and I still can't believe that this happened. Out of his briefcase he pulled an envelope and asked me to write my name and address on it. So i did, then he asked me to put the one hundred pounds in the envelope. So I did. Then from his back pocket he pulled out the giant wad of quid and pulled off ten thousand pounds and shoved it into the envelope. He then says to me, "When you get home expect to find this surprise in the mail, today you made an old mans day because no one ever pays attention to an old man." He then asked when my next Holiday was and I told him next May, he then tells me that he is going to send me a plane ticket for Melbourne, Australia to be his guest so I can start my backpacking trip next year. And with that he stood up, shook my hand, thanked me for a wonderful morning and walked off.

Throughout my travels I told everyone I met along the way this story, everyone has there own theory of what I would find in the mail when I returned home. Be it nothing to everything I would want to find. So Ladies and Gentleman what do you all think I found in the mail two months later when I returned to the states? But regardless of the outcome it is a just a great story!


Anonymous Jonah said...

So, is it true? Are you dining well tonight?

July 20, 2006 5:09 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

an empty envelope?

Great story stickler, you are such an adventurous traveler. Let me guess, you chatted with at least 25 old men at various different landmarks, from the Charles Bridge to the Fountain of Trevi. Furthermore, I'd bet that no less than 6 of them offered to send you an envelope of money.

July 20, 2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Stickler said...

Jonah it is totally true, I can't make somethin glike that. Or even try to exaggerate it!

Colin, Yes, I'm gullible. I seem to remember alot of harrassment from you on that respect!

July 20, 2006 8:13 AM  
Blogger Lynn-e said...

That is a fantastic story! Did you get the envelope?

July 20, 2006 9:51 AM  
Blogger Paige said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 20, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Paige said...

Stickler, that was a great story; how sweet :)

July 20, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Stickler said...

lynn-e thanks for the praise, you'll just have to wait till I have time to write the ending!

And to all those random people that are reading this, chime in it would be nice to know what you think?

July 20, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger Stickler said...

thanks paige! Miss you too!

July 20, 2006 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a postcard?

July 20, 2006 8:25 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Firstly, Aussies will bet on two flies crawling up a wall. We're a mad lot.
Secondly, don't fucking leave me hanging like that. Did you get the money?
If you did, that is the best travelling story i've heard EVER.

July 21, 2006 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Stickler, this is the best story I've read in weeks. I have to admit that I think it's total and absolute BS. We all know what a prankster you are, and you also have the gift of blarney, despite not being Irish.

But it being fictional doesn't make it any less fun to read. I can't wait to hear the ending...once you've made it up, that is.

Just don't ask any of us to put money in an envelope and send it to you, or I'm telling your parents. :)

July 21, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Stickler said...

anonynous, you'll just have to wait and see!

Steph, I'm writing it as we speak since I just returned from Vegas, sounds like you would have liked vegas!

Bill, I swear this is the truth, no exaggerations, nothing, this is what happened! And I didn't kiss the blarney stone, because did you know little children pee on it at night?

July 21, 2006 5:22 PM  

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