Can you face winning our competition?

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The Independent Travel
A salvo of Arctic wind blasted through the city, prompting the people to set their collars a notch or two higher against the cold - and their fellow citizens ."Don't rush me!", pleaded the homeless man, clutching a plastic cup on one of the grubbier street corners. "One donation at a time, please".

London 1986, Moscow 1991 or Washington DC 1996? To mark 10 years of Independent travel writing, match descriptions with destinations to win a "holiday".

The prize

The journey will begin on the evening of 7 November when the winner joins Simon Calder on an overnight rail and ship trek from London to the Hook of Holland, connecting with the train to Hengelo near the German border. There you will begin a day's hitch across northern Europe before checking in for the night - probably at a former DDR youth camp on the outskirts of Germany's biggest city.

The weekend will be spent researching Berlin exactly seven years after the Wall came down. The return journey will be the same trip in reverse (though possibly even colder), and should end in London on the morning of 11 November. The travel and accommodation costs will be met; other expenses are the winner's responsibility. It is hoped that the winner will write an account of the trip, paid at normal rates.

If this does not appeal, the winner can opt instead for a copy of a guidebook to Berlin. The trip will then be offered to the runner-up. Should it again be declined, the option will pass to the third in line.

The tie-break

The first prize is a dismal journey across the North Sea, Holland and the autobahn network to Berlin. So what should be the second prize? Answers in 25 words or less.

How to enter

Match the text from Independent travel stories to a place and date. If you think the first quote goes with location/date (k), write 1:k, and so on. Add your tie-break (see above), name, address and daytime telephone number, and post your entry to Ten Year Hitch, Travel Desk, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL, to arrive by 21 October. Fax: 0171- 293 2451.

1. "Oh my God," she sighed, inhaling deeply as she moved on to the next bouquet. "Oh my God," she groaned again in fresh ecstasy. An assistant asked courteously if she wanted any help. "No thanks," replied the customer, "I just come in here when I need a break from life, ya know wad I mean?"

2. "Persons wearing smart casual attire in a good state of repair will be admitted", proposed a sign, a trifle unsure of itself.

3. Brochures emphasising the winter sun and luxury hotels seem tilted at yuppies and the middle class intelligentsia. I visited the area as their self-appointed and extremely unlikely representative.

4. Someone in uniform came in, his walkie-talkie crackling. "Have you got an NUJ card?" "No," I admitted. With a hint of triumph, he squawked into his radio: "No November-Uniform-Juliet card."

5. Spending just one minute at each exhibit, it would take eight years to see the contents. The Intourist tour lasts 90 minutes.

6. The Chief collects pounds 2.50 per visitor, but it is customary to bring offerings of cigarettes and biscuits too. We had an intra-bus cultural clash over what sort of biscuits; I held out for Custard Creams, while the Germans wanted something a bit less tasty.

7. Centuries of history, odd little alleyways and stunning Islamic designs have been distilled into a glorified carpet warehouse.

8. "Do you want first class tickets, or second class tickets - in the beck with the blecks?" asked the white ticket clerk. Second class was fine, just as comfortable and half the price. We brought the cheaper tickets, but they still made us sit in the separate compartment in the front with the black driver and postman.

9. The bar was fitted out in the worst possible taste, yet it had a curious elegance. The stools and sofas were covered with fake leopard skin; stuffed heads of big game poked out of the bamboo-lined walls.

10. "Pies, pies, pies," sighs a pretty blonde waitress breezing past with two slices of cherry, a blueberry and a piece of ultra-rich peanut butter pie. "More coffee?" offered an even prettier, blonder co-worker.

a: Twin Peaks country, Washington, 1990

b: Tenerife, 1987

c: Senegal, 1986

d: The casino, Adelaide, 1993

e: Istanbul, 1991

f: Sarawak, 1994

g: Luton, 1992

h: Namibia, 1989

j: The Hermitage, Leningrad, 1990.

k: New York City, 1988

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