My lovely mate Ben turned 30 on Monday. He had, what can only be described as a world ending Hula party on Saturday. It was that good I wore a coconut bra. Don't believe me...here it comes.
And then he invited a few of us to join him on a little few days away to France to celebrate.
Great idea we thought. What a treat, we said.
Where are we going, we asked. Lille he said.
Here's some things to know before you book your trip of a lifetime to French's fine city.
1. It rains. Pretty much all of the time. And when it doesn't rain. It's really quite windy.
2. Their local dish is basically cheese on toast. Except there's only one slice of really thin bread in it. And about 700 grams of cheese. So basically their local dish is a bowl of melted cheese. Ever so rich.
3. They stop serving lunch everywhere at 2pm. So if you want to eat, don't have breakfast and just go for lunch at 11.30am. It's safer that way. Don't ask anyone if their kitchen is open past 2pm. They will look at you with the glare of the devil.
4. The Cathedral is actually beautiful. Unless it's raining. Which it probably will be. Then it's just a bit of a grey old building.
5. The architecture is half French and half Flemish and ever so pretty. If it stops raining, you might even get enough time to take a photo of it. Below.
6. The beer out there will Fuck. You. Up. They feel no way about selling lagers that are 12%. Yep, you heard me. 12%. Dead. On. The. Floor.
7. Even when you speak to the locals in French, they don't understand you because they speak a local dialect which is a mixture of French and Flemmish. They'll either ignore you if you speak to them in French or just reply in English. So just stick with what you know.
8. They sell incredible Pina Coladas. Random but true.
9. Learn to read French before you go. Because when in a hurry, and ordering on the quick, you may think you have ordered a chicken and frites dish and in fact what you end up with is this...yep, that's just bits of rancid pork in some jelly. Poor Jamie.
10. Red wine basically comes out of the taps. It's like a pisshead's dream. Hence why Ben 'loves it' everso.
11. Taxis don't exist. So either learn to walk. Or. Well. Don't go. Transport options are ever so limited.
12. They know how to cook steak good. Real good.
13. After two nights you won't sleep very well. Because you've eaten so much cheese that you've started having really horrendous nightmares. Just a warning.
14. Don't take flip flops. Did I mention how much it rains?
15. If you ask for shots expect one of the following to arrive. A) Jager, Vodka and Melon Liquor in a glass. B) Mouthwash. Really, really boozy mouthwash.
16. The pastries are out of the this world. Like, world ending.
17. The coffee is that strong, you often need to use a knife to drink it. Which is handy, because you will have got so pissed waiting for the rain to stop, you'll need your heart starting again.
18. And last but not least, don't go with Ben. Because he gets really drunk, pretends he knows the way home, and leads you on a 45 minute badly guided tour of the rough parts of town.