The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe- Scotland

Overview

Scotland has a long history of fighting with people.  They fought the Romans (Hence the construction of Hadrian’s wall by the Romans), the Vikings, The British, and of course each other. The Highland clans were like the street gangs of their time, and the Clan Campbell and the Clan MacDonald were the Crips and Bloods.

In 1703, Scotland was officially taken over by England, and was incorporated into the U.K., which it remains to this day since their damn referendum to secede fell through.

A fun side fact: The flag that everyone thinks of as the British Flag, the Union Jack:

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom

Isn’t actually the Flag of Engand. This is:

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If that doesn’t make sense to you, look at the name of the first flag. It’s called UNION Jack. It’s named that for a reason. That reason is if you take the British flag and combine it with the flag of Scotland:

Flag of Scotland

And the flag of Northern Ireland:

Flag_of_Northern_Ireland

You get the Union Jack.

And if you are wondering why the Welsh flag isn’t also a part of this, it’s because Wales was only a principality when the U.K. was formed. They never added an element of the Welsh Flag when it was declared a country because to Hell with Wales.

Although that dragon would be pretty bitchin’ on the Union Jack.

Although that dragon would be pretty bitchin’ on the Union Jack.

Initial Thoughts

“You know, I always expected Scotland to have a lot more kilt and bagpipe shops than there is in reality. It’s pretty disappointing, actually- Oh wait, there’s one. Never mind. And wow, we only left the airport 5 minutes ago.”

Let it be known that Scotland would look exactly like England if it wasn’t for all the Kilt and wool shops and their flag flying everywhere like the ghost of William Wallace. Which, by the way, if you do ever go to Scotland and you decide to stay out after 2:00 AM, you will see Wallace’s ghost. Be warned.

Accommodations

We, by which I mean my boyfriend Dave and I, stayed at the Motel 1 on the hilariously named Cockburn street. I assume Motel 1 was named that ironically, since not only is it not the only motel in Edinburgh, but it isn’t even the only Motel 1 in Edinburgh. The other Motel one was less than a mile away from the one we stayed. You could see it from the main entrance to ours.  Way to try to monopolize Motel 1 corp.

I'm glad we didn't stay here.

At least we didn’t stay here. This place sounds painful.

This motel was styled in a very modern, yet also somewhat rustic fashion. The lobby and dining areas had tables made from repurposed whisky casks, and the bench seating along the windows had blue plaid cushions and sheep skin blankets.  Yet, everything had clean lines and stainless steel accents. The room was no different. Have a look:

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You cannot tell from the picture, but the design that is on the brown pillows is also on the carpet and the drapes, which could lead into a multitude of pube jokes that I’m just going to pass on for now. Instead, here’s the bathroom:

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Infinite selfies!

Infinite selfies!

I will, however, say this about the bathroom: It was too small to be equipped with such a shitty fan. The bathroom would turn into a steam room within 5 minutes of me getting into the shower. I learned to leave the bathroom door and the window to outside open for ventilation, but ugh, that’s a pain in the ass when I could just do nothing instead. Thanks for nothing, Motel 1.

Sites

In Edinburgh, The majority of the more famous sites can be found on or near the Royal mile. The Royal mile is a road that goes up the hill from Hollyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle. The castle is the older of the two structures and is situated on the highest point in Edinburgh. Hollyrood is the more modern palace (The Current Queen stays there in the summer), but it is also where Mary Queen of Scots lived until the murder of her first son. After that she moved up to the Castle to protect herself and her unborn child. While Holyrood palace still maintains the elegance of being a working palace, the castle has gone full tourism mode.  Most of the buildings are used as museums or displays of what life (palace life, the dungeons) was like back in the day. The castle has around 5 separate gift shops inside it, which makes me think that they ran out of ideas of what to do with all the extra space.

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Along the Royal mile itself  are a series of shops and restaurants. Most of the shops pretty much all sell what you would expect from Scotland: Kilts, miniature bagpipes, canned haggis, anything with a clan name printed on it, and vaguely Celtic items. The more touristy place sold shot glasses and other forgettable souvenirs. However, there were still quite a few shops along the Royal mile that are unique and contain items that I didn’t see anywhere else. Old Town Context is one such store. Old Town Context is actually part of a small chain of stores in Scotland that sell old fashioned curiosities. Miniature stair cases, hot air balloon mobiles, and old tin signs are just some of the many interesting things you can find in this store of curiosities. Here’s their website if you want to see what it’s like. Other than Old town Context, there was a shop the sold various Celtic items, such as Celtic knot window hangs, and miniature recreations of Pictish runes. Then there are whisky shops, and shops that sold wool, and two different Christmas shops. The Royal Mile, has a shit load of stores, is basically what I’m trying to get at.

The Royal Mile, right before the zombies attacked.

The Royal Mile, right before the zombies attacked.

Other sites to see in Old Town Edinburgh are The People’s museum on the Royal Mile, The Scottish Parliament Building, the Scotch Whiskey Experience, and Edinburgh’s hiking spots: The Salsbury Crag and Arthur’s Seat. If you want to witness the best views of Edinburgh, The top of Arthur’s seat is your destination. However, if you’re the typical fat American, be warned that it’s a long hike and there isn’t a single escalator to the top. Get on that, Edinburgh.

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The Queen's gallery, Arthur's Seat,the Scottish Parliament building, and Scotland's famous vanishing cars.

The Queen’s gallery, Arthur’s Seat,the Scottish Parliament building, and Scotland’s famous vanishing cars. And on the far right, you can see the edge of existence.

In New Town, there is the Walter Scott Monument, The Edinburgh Monument, The National Gallery, The Modern Art Gallery,  and the tourist center. And all of it is within walking distance,  which is good unless you’re really against walking. And in that case, why did you decide to go to Europe in the first place, hypothetical lazy traveler? All of Europe is the walking capital of the world.

The Walter Scott Monument

The Walter Scott Monument

Outside of Edinburgh,  I also got to see Loch Ness, The highlands, and The Borders. Although, The Highlands of Scotland are less of a “tourist site” as it is “A natural geological formation that covers the majority of the country.” Loch Ness, despite it’s fame, Isn’t all that fascinating. It’s just a lake. Even the Loch Ness monster isn’t that mysterious. Here’s a picture of me about to punch it in it’s easy to find face. Way to suck at hunting things, Scotland.

I won the fight against Nessie, but only because I was wearing my Cracked.com shirt when I fought her.

I won the fight against Nessie, but only because I was wearing my Cracked.com shirt when I fought her.

She turned out to be super chill. We're friends now. I also credit this to my t-shirt.

She turned out to be super chill. We’re friends now. I also credit this to my t-shirt.

The Higlands, on the other hand, contain some of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen, and I’ve  rock climbed up the Rockies, hiked up the Alps, and copped your mom’s titties.

Here's some aloe vera for that nasty burn.

Here’s some aloe vera for that nasty burn.

The Mountains in the highlands are so sudden, and I think that’s part of what makes them beautiful. There are no foothills to these mountains, unlike the Appalachian or Rocky foothills, Only steady, rolling plains and then mountains. But once you get to the first ones, Then you’ll be traveling between valleys for the rest of the trip. It is amazing.

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Pictured: Not Loch Ness

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This is Loch Ness- just a normal, everyday, poorly spelled lake.

Food

There really is only one meal that is regularly associated with Scotland, and that food is Haggis.  Haggis is so infamous, that one of the most common questions I was asked once I got back was “Did you try the haggis?” (The second most common one is “Did you buy a kilt?” because everyone thinks I would look hot in a skirt.) And the Scottish really do eat it, once in the morning with their traditional Scottish breakfast (2 sausages, 2 pieces of english bacon, grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, baked beans, haggis, a fried egg, either hashbrowns or potato scone, and 2 pieces of toast) and for dinner in the form of haggis, neeps, and tatties.  Before I go into the “neeps and tatties,” portion, I need to explain what haggis is. Haggis is, and how do I put this for your delicate sensibilities, a boatload of organs meat. More specifically, it is sheep lungs, liver, and kidneys, chopped up and boiled with  beef fat for six hours. Spices and oats are then added to it, the mixture is stuffed into a sheep’s stomach, and then it is boiled some more. It looks exactly as appealing as it sounds:

Haggis is the greyish sludge at the top of the plate.

Haggis is the greyish sludge at the top of the plate.

For dinner, haggis is served with neeps and tatties, or mashed turnips and potatoes. Despite everything haggis has going against it, it’s actually pretty good. It’s flavorful and hearty, and while its savoriness might become overwhelming after a while, the neeps and tatties do an excellent job at balancing out the flavor with sweet and starchy. Really, the main hurdle to get past with haggis is the fact that it looks like what you’d expect it to look like when it comes back out of you. Try not to think about that when you eat it because it will ruin the whole experience for you.  Also, if you want to eat haggis and not be grossed out, then do not read about how it’s made… I probably should have mentioned that earlier. That one’s on me. Sorry.

Haggis 2

Despite what I said about how good haggis is, Bangers and Mash had to be my favorite meal in Scotland, and not just because it sounds like a buddy cop show on the USA network. Bangers and Mash is sausage, mashed potatoes, and gravy. That’s it. It’s so simple, but delicious, and I’m a little mad I never thought of trying that before. Although, I don’t know why they need two different words for mashed potatoes. It’s like mashed potatoes are to them what snow is to the eskimos.

Alcohol

Just as you don’t go to Japan and not try the wine made with fermented baby mice, you don’t visit Scotland and not drink their scotch whisky.  Scotch whiskey is whiskey made with single malt grain, usually barley, which is then cooked over an open fire of peatmoss, which gives the whiskey its unique flavor.

Dave and I tried 6 different Scotches during a scotch tasting event I participated in (The event was that the bar was open and serving drinks).

The first whiskey we tried was from the Highlands:

Whiskey 1

We thought this one was sweet and mild. A nice starter whiskey- whiskey training wheels if you will.

The second one was from Speyside:

Whiskey 2

This one was much stronger and had a much smokier and peatier taste to it. This one needed more water than the rest to make it drinkable.

The third was from the island of Islay:

Whiskey 3

This one had a little bit more of a smokey taste to it, as well as more peat.

The fourth was another Highland scotch:

Whiskey 4

This whiskey had less smoke than the previous one, but was still detectable. It was also smoother than the previous one. This was our favorite.

#5 was another whiskey from Speyside

Whiskey 5

It was sweet, and had a very light smoke flavor to it

And finally #6

Whiskey 6

Apparently, this one was crafted in the boiling waters of hell and heated with the burning corpses of murderers. My trip-mate would describe the taste as sweet and syrupy, but I totally disagree and think that it tasted more like a million people screaming in my head. I only managed to take one sip of this one. And since my gag reflex desperately fought with me on that one sip, I didn’t try it again. But on the bright side, I didn’t throw it back up in the middle of the crowded bar. I’m calling that a win.

People

The Scottish people are actually some of the friendliest I’ve met in my travels. But that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is how passionate they are about political issues. As luck or the fates or whatever would have it, Dave and I  just so happened to be in Scotland the day they voted on a referendum on whether or not they would secede from the UK. This would have been incredibly historical, since they have not been an independent nation since 1707. So if they would have voted to secede, we would have been there on their first independence day in over 300 years. Guess which side we were rooting for.

Unfortunately for us (and probably Scotland too or whatever) 55% of the people voted against seceding, so instead of partying out of my mind with them, they went on with their normal lives. How boring.

But the people there, at least the ones we talked to were passionate. Everyone we had talked to absolutely wanted independence, and they were quite willing to explain why to us. And if anything immediately humanizes a person from a foreign country, it’s listening to them talk about their government. Because many of their arguments are the same that we here in America: Politicians suck, the government is fucking us over, taxes are too high… It’s actually a little reassuring to hear that we aren’t the only ones going through this bullshit.

Oh, but my favorite thing about the Scottish people is the frequency they use the word “Cheers.” They use it all the time. All. The. Time. When they serve you a drink: Cheers. When they server you your food: Cheers. When a conversation comes to an end: Cheers.  When you buy something at their store: Cheers. I have no clue what the rules are for using that word, but they say it more often than a fraternity uses the word “bro.”

I also met this dog. It was the highlight of my trip.

I also met this dog. It was the highlight of my trip.

Overall atmosphere

The atmosphere of Scotland pretty laid back. Everyone is friendly, everything is easy to find and get to, and with a native population that is outnumbered by sheep, you’ll never find a section of Edinburgh that is overcrowded and loud. And the city (like any city in Great Britian where Tourism is big business) is kept very clean.  But while Edingurgh has the cleanliness of London, it is more condensed, making all the sites easier to get to, as well as a distinct historical district. Simply put, Scotland was amazing.

Ok. Here’s more pics:

Scotland has these. What a great country.

Scotland has these. What a great country.

A random courtyard that I took a picture of because it looked European. Please note that people live in those houses, so me taking a picture of them is a little creepy.

A random courtyard that I took a picture of because it looked European. Please note that people live in those houses, so me taking a picture of them is a little creepy.

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A foggy night in Edinburgh. Also. that sign fucked up my picture.

Hollyrood Palace

Hollyrood Palace

The ruins of the Abbey at Hollyrood

The ruins of the Abbey at Hollyrood

The gardens looking towards the ruins of the Abbey at Hollyrood

The gardens looking towards the ruins of the Abbey at Hollyrood

The Edinburgh Castle lit up fabulously

The Edinburgh Castle lit up fabulously

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People celebrating Scotland’s attempted (and eventually failed) succession with candles

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The weapons in Edinburgh Castle’s great hall

Hero dog cemetery

Hero dog cemetery

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The (incomplete) Edinburgh Monument

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A beautiful day on Cockburn Street (I can't stop saying that name)

A beautiful day on Cockburn Street (I can’t stop saying that name)

The Salsbury Crag

The Salsbury Crag

The view from atop Arthur's Seat

The view from atop Arthur’s Seat

The valley (or Glen since this is Scotland) between Arthur's Seat and the Salsbury Crag

The valley (or Glen since this is Scotland) between Arthur’s Seat and the Salsbury Crag

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England is much less welcoming.

England is much less welcoming.

WHERE HARRY POTTER HAD HIS FIRST FLYING LESSON!!!!!!!!

WHERE HARRY POTTER HAD HIS FIRST FLYING LESSON!!!!!!!!

Just an average Scottish person.

Just an average Scottish person.

Peace, you bastards.

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Greece

OK this is my last American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe post, so brace yourselves. Things are about to get epic like the Odyssey.

Overview

Greece is where that newfangled thick yogurt comes from. Also, democracy. It has been run by a bunch of sex crazed immortals, blood thirsty warriors, and men who really liked young boys. Pop culture as taught me that those are the only three groups of people from ancient Greece. I don’t know how women fit into this triad. They’ve also had their list of history’s greatest minds: the warrior king Alexander the Great, The philosophers Socrates and Aristotle, the  great scientist Archimedes, and that guy who you sell all your old clothes to: Plato.

He may have also invented Play-Doh

Now a days, The Greeks  are a little bit less on changing the world and more about fixing all of the problems of their fucked up government. Clearly the ones who invented democracy were not the ones to perfect it. U.S.A! U.S.A!

Initial Thoughts

There’s an awful lot of water here… like, a ton of water. It’s everywhere. Wait a second. [looks over the balcony] I’m on a boat!? Oh shit, my group got me deported! I need to get off of this boat! [runs inside and into Shar]

Shar! You got deported too? What did you do?

Shar- I didn’t get deported

Me- then why are we on this boat in the middle of the sea?

Shar- we’re on our way to Greece. How do you not remember getting on this last night? You threw someone overboard right when you got on.

Me- Hmmm… I don’t think that sounds like something I’d do.

Shar- literally every conversation that I’ve had with you makes me think that throwing someone off of a boat is exactly something you would do.

Me- Oh. [turns around and sees and island in the distance] IS THAT OUR ISLAND!?

Shar- How should I know?

Me- [after a few minutes sees another] IS THAT OUR ISLAND!?!?

Shar- [long sigh] I don’t know, Minigan. We’ll know when we get there.

I continued to ask her for every new island we saw, that is, until she got frustrated by something and went inside. But before she went, she did take this picture of me:

Is it just me, or do I look like I might have Down's Syndrome here?

Shar, was this our island?

Accommodations

Holy shit, check out the view from my hotel room:

Fuck yes! Every new hotel room Sammy and I had, we were always disappointed that we never got the nicest room. We never had nice views (well, except for in Austria, but everyone had good views from that hotel, and we had scaffolding right outside out balcony) and we kept telling ourselves that we’d have the best view/ room eventually. This was our best room. The room itself wasn’t that much different from anyone else’s room, but we were on the highest level and were facing the bay, so we won.

Now the hotel wasn’t spectacular. If too many people took showers at once, the water pressure would drop and the water would go cold.  I seriously had to crouch under the facet to rinse the shampoo out of my hair on our first night because so many people were taking a shower that only a trickle of water came out. After that, I saw to it that I took a shower when everyone else was doing some other activity.

Our hotel in Athens didn’t have the nicest view (it was down an alley) but for us having to walk our luggage a city block to get to it, it was actually very nice. It was quite modern and had a rooftop patio where my group spent our last night in Europe. I and my fellow Jersey Boys (I was inducted into the group in Rome) each bought a bottle of champagne for the celebration. Also two of the people in our group, Zack and Shar, got engaged that morning. So, you know, we celebrated that too.

Sites

The first thing we saw in Greece was this trench:

OK Greece, off to a slow start

There were a few sites to see in Poros, like this clock tower:

And these ruins:

I didn’t actually go to either of these things; I spent my 2 days in Poros bike riding through the town and relaxing on the beach. I did visit the temple of Poseidon, but I didn’t get any pictures. (I’ll explain why later).

In Athens, we got to walk up to the Acropolis and be jealous of the Archaeologists who were allowed to frolic through the ruins of the Parthenon. When we were there, it was 99 degrees out, which was kind of shitty to be honest. That isn’t even all that important to anything, I just wanted to point that out to all my friends back in the states because they couldn’t stop bitching about hot the temperature in Pennsylvania and Ohio was. It was 85 degrees, it’s always that temperature in July, and I climbed a goddamned mountain in weather fifteen degrees hotter, so stop your bitching and go someplace with air conditioning, you pussies.

Here’s some pictures of the Acropolis:

They apparently have modern day concerts here

Jersey Boys and the Parthenon

Food

I ate 2 gyros (pronounced yeer-oh, as Wikipedia tells me) one was chicken and the other was standard lamb. They were amazing, which is given, since “delicious gyro” is a redundancy. I also had a Greek salad. This is a lot less salady than you think. It is essentially fresh tomatoes, red onion, and green pepper with feta cheese, olive oil, and oregano. I’m not usually a fan of tomatoes, but the feta cheese made them very tolerable.

Then there was this lasagna esque dish. I don’t know what it was called because Sammy and I fell asleep and showed up while everyone else was on dessert. Luckily, my group saved me a plate. I love those guys. They didn’t save Sammy one because fuck Sammy.

What did I ever do to you, Sammy?

Alcohol

Greece has their own beer: Mythos (guess where they got that name). It was ok I guess. Definitely drinkable. Then there was this fruit drink that I’m pretty sure was sangria mixed with chunks of fruit. I drank a few of those, mostly because we did have some nondrinkers with us on the trip and I didn’t want them to feel like they were being forced into drinking…. we had that drink at our group’s toga party. That was a blast. I was sunburnt, I thought I lost 20 Euros, but it turned out that drunk me is smart and just gave it to Julie to hold. Then we also threw Andy (the coolest tour guide ever) into the pool behind our hotel. Later, Jon and Brennen got banged up on a old boat, Sammy got some from a girl in the group one day a head of us, Paul and I almost skinny dipped  with everybody else but decided to just go in in our boxers instead, and Paul, Ohio Michelle, and I got drunk in Paul’s room. Then, Jersey Boys (including me) and Michelle then busted into my room to catch Sammy nailing that girl, only to see that they were already asleep. The girl did wake up at one point to see the six of us standing at the edge of the bed looking unsure of what to do next. Simply put: We didn’t plan it well. Oh yeah, and Brennen and Cj started fucking around with a fire extinguisher. I ended up sharing a bed with Paul and Jon and we didn’t look at each other the next day. What I’m getting at with is that we had a good night.

People

This dog:

Daaaawwww!!!!!

I know I might have said that I would only talk about a dog in the people section for Venice, but I had to talk about this dog. In fact, I cannot talk about Greece without talking about three things, and all three of those things are that dog. The dog’s name is Paul Jr. and he is not named after our Paul. There is actually a story behind this that I had politely asked Brennen to write for me, just to give everyone a different perspective to view Europe through and not at all because I’m lazy, but he never replied to my texts. I even told him it would be OK if he didn’t want to, just as long as he told me so. But that bastard never did, so it looks like I’m going to have to tell his story for him. You brought this upon yourself, Brennen.

___________

I was drunk. Like, really drunk. I hadn’t felt this way since Rome. Minigan did this, I thought as I peered around the crowded club. I couldn’t see his head of majestic curls anywhere. Oh yeah, I remembered, Kevin asked him a question about his writing, and that had completely distracted him while a large group of us piled into the bus that was to take us to the club. Even while being drunk and partying I was just so irritated that no one else had tried that the entire trip; each of us asking that question at key times during the trip would have made everything run a whole lot smoother than what it did and probably would have saved a couple of lives. In any case, we really owed Kevin one.

Suddenly, I felt a slight pang of guilt (I’m pretty sure “pang” is a word), not about leaving Kevin with Minigan, but for leaving Minigan in general. I tried to shake the feeling by grinding harder with the girl I was dancing with, but it didn’t help. I just couldn’t stop thinking of how nice a guy Minigan is. No he isn’t, I tried to tell myself, he’s attacked a bunch of people on this trip, God knows how many more when I haven’t been around him. I then thought back to Rome, when Minigan, in a drug induced frenzy, forcibly made out with me. My heart fluttered. After a panicked second or two of wondering what that meant, I decided to push Minigan out of my mind for the rest of the night.

A few hours later, I was good and hammered and talking to one of the girls from the group one day ahead of us. As we talked, a strange looking, obviously Greek man walked up to us.

“Ello tere!” he said (I don’t really know what a Greek accent sounds like), “You Americans?”

“No, no no!” the girl (whose name I cannot remember) cried.

“Oh, no!” I laughed in my best foreign accent and continued, “I am Fredrico Bernardo, Treasure Hunter and this is Paul. She is a gypsy.”

I guess you had to be there

We talked a little while longer to the man, still pretending to be an Italian explorer and his gypsy slave and telling him of the adventures I’ve had and the women I’ve conqurered. But after a while, we grew tired of lying to the Greek man, so we agreed to walk back to the hotel.

The night was warm and conforting, like Minigan’s mouth when he kissed me. His hands were strong, but they held me so caringly that I had never felt more safe. And his lips. Oh! His lips were so soft, yet so passionate and forceful. I think I could go the rest of my life without finding a better kisser than Minigan. He has set the bar for the rest of the world.

Wait, was I talking about? Oh yeah, the night I found Paul Jr. Sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me. As Paul (the girl whose name I don’t remember) and I walked down the hill to head back to the larger island of Poros, we heard a light clattering from behind us. We both turned around to see a large brown dog trot up to us, its eyes bright and its tail wagging. I immediately fell in love. Despite my better judgement I knelt down, whistled, and beckoned for the dog to come closer. Its tail went into a frenzy as it bounded towards us. The dog was obviously a stray; it had no tags or collar, it was dirty and its hair matted, and it smelled like the ocean.  Despite the rest of its appearance, the dog appeared to be well fed. Paul and I petted the dog, and it seemed to be enjoying it, that is until it started barking like it just discovered it could.

Fearing that the situation was about to go bad, Lady Paul and I stood up and backed away from the dog. As I took a step back, I hit something warm and fleshy. I turned around to see the face of a disgruntled looking gypsy man. I let out a small, shriek and stumbled backward. The dog, took my spot and began to bark at the gypsy. The man became nervous just as Lady Paul and I had and began to run away. The dog chased him for a little while, and then trotted back to us, looking very pleased with itself.

“This is the greatest dog ever!” I said, beaming down at the dog.

“Yeah!” Lady Paul replied, “We should totally name it!”

“Well, that’s the best idea anyone has ever had,” I said rather hyperbolically now that I think about it, “We should name it Paul Jr.!”

Really, you just had to be there to appreciate it

We continued our walk back to the hotel, Paul Jr. merrily trotting along, keeping an eye out for any more of those Goddamn gypsies. After a few minutes of uneventful walking, we started to hear a strange noise. It sounded like someone was trying to mimic the sound of an old timey train engine. A few seconds later the voice grew louder and closer, and we could recognize that what the person was saying was actually, “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…”

It was Minigan. My heart climbed into my mouth as he came sprinting up the hill, still saying, “shit” over and over again. He passed us, barely even noticing that I was even there. I haven’t felt that disappointed since I found out that Santa Clause isn’t real. Then, to my great pleasure, he stopped, turned around, and looked at us with his sexy, steely blue eyes. They reminded me of Anderson Cooper’s eyes, but more manly. My heart was back in my mouth. I knew how dangerous it was to look him directly in the eye, especially unwarranted, but I couldn’t help it. All I wanted to do was stand there and drink in those majestic blue eyes forever.

“What the fuck are you standing there for?” he snapped,  disregarding that I looked him in the eye, “RUN!!!”

Just at that moment, a horrible Earth-rattling screech came from the bottom of the hill. Fear filled Minigan’s  beautiful eyes. He picked up Paul Jr., turned to us, and said, “For fuck’s sake, follow me!”

He sprinted up the hill, and Lady Paul and I followed. There was another screech. I increased my  pace  to catch up with Minigan and his powerful, Olympian legs. Once I had, I said through deep breaths, “What is making that noise?”

“The Kraken.” He replied, somehow not out of breath.

“What?!” Lady Paul and I cried in unison.

Even he looks surprised

“The Kraken.” Minigan repeated, “I accidentally released the Kraken. Now we need to get to higher ground-“

“How in the Hades (zing) did you both find and release a giant sea monster within the past three hours?” I interrupted. To be honest, I didn’t really need to ask this question; I already feared the worst.

“It was actually pretty easy,” he began rather casually, seeing as though we were running up hill from a giant sea monster, “I just went to the temple of Poseidon that’s on the peak of the big island and told him that I was his son and if he really loved me, he would give me control of the Kraken.”

“So you released the Kraken on purpose?” I replied.

“Yes”

“That doesn’t sound very accidental at all!” Lady Paul, whom I had forgotten was still here, snapped.

“Well that is the definition of ‘on purpose,’ sweet cheeks,” Minigan snapped back.

“Why would you want to release the Kraken?” I asked, ignoring Lady Paul’s stupid, woman  remark.

“Well, first I thought it would be funny. Secondly, I wanted to conquer Greece. I clearly didn’t think things through.”

There was another monsterous screech, which was followed by  the sound of the trunks of trees breaking in front of us. About fifty yards ahead, a giant creature climbed onto the cliff from the ocean. The monster was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. If it wasn’t for how scared I was, I would have noted the irony of Minigan, the most beautiful man I know, releasing something so terrible onto the world. Anyway, the Kraken’s face was lumpy and twisted, like if Picasso did a painting of Barbra Streisand. It’s upper body was long and thin, but still noticeably muscular, and its lower body was made entirely of tentacles. It screeched again once it saw us, and began to lumber (as best as an animal with the lower body strength of a squid could lumber) towards us. Paul Jr. was barking even more than when he scared off the gypsy and had managed to wiggle out of Minigan’s tight muscular arms. The brown dog then ran straight for the monster.

“Paul Jr.!” I cried, wishing that Minigan would hold me in his arms, but it was too late. Paul Jr. had already reached the Kraken and bitten one of its tentacles. The Kraken let out a higher pitch, whipped its tentacle feet around for a second or two, and fell down the cliff and back into the water. Paul Jr., who had let go of the Kraken at the last second, ran back up to us covered in slime, but still very proud of himself.

“Wow,” Minigan said while staring at where the Kraken was standing (kind of) just seconds before, ‘That sure was anticlimactic.”

Happy to escape a run in with a giant sea monster, the three of us and Paul Jr. walked back to the hotel, swapping stories of what happened earlier that night. I wanted to be mad at Minigan for almost killing me again, but every time I see him all I can think about is how I want to taste his lips again. Minigan Blackwood is the most dangerous drug, and unfortunately, I’m addicted.
______________

See Brennen? That is what happens when you don’t respond to one of my text messages. All of you be warned.

Overall Atmosphere

The atmosphere of Poros was peaceful and relaxing, as you would expect from a small island town where your hotel is right across the street from a beach. Poros is just one of those places that you relax no matter what you do. When a group of us rode bikes around the island? Relaxing. When I was chilling on the beach with Paul Jr.? Relaxing. When we sailed around the island and Melinda, Kendra, Kevin and I sang Bohemian Rhapsody the entire way through several times? Relaxing. When I “accidentally” awakened the god Poseidon and released the kraken? Relaxing.

As for Athens, it wasn’t nearly as tense as you would guess if you listen to the news. We were all worried before we left when we heard about the protests in Athens, but it turned out to be not dangerous at all. I even tried to start a riot, but no, they didn’t want any of it. It, like Paris, Brussels, Salzburg, and Rome had the duality of being a city with a modern culture yet still retaining some of its old world feel. Granted, the “city with a modern culture” was mostly shown by cars and graffiti, but you can find places like that in every city or in all of Detroit. Plus, a lot of the Graffiti in Athens was street art, not random tagging, which added personality and beauty to the city.

But none of that is what I want to talk about. What I really want to talk about is that our night in Athens was our last night on the trip so we wanted to go out with a party. We went to the roof our hotel (we were allowed to) and drank the champagne that me and the rest of the Jersey Boys bought. This was the view from on top of the hotel:

That's the Acropolis

If you’ve read all of my “American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe” posts, you may remember a similar view from London:

And that is Tower Bridge

It was moving to end our trip the same we started it: by partying on hotel rooftops with views of well-known landmarks of the city we were staying in. It felt as though we had come full circle, but all becoming close friends along the way. I will never forget this trip or all the wonderful people I became friends with on it. I haven’t got to hang out with them nearly as much as I would’ve liked since I’ve been back, and because of this blog series I’ve been reminiscing about them and this trip just about every week since I’ve gotten back. Guys, I know you’re reading this. Or, I like to believe that you’re reading this. We WILL hang out soon, even if I have to drug and kidnap each and every one of you. You know I’m serious about that.

And as for everyone who didn’t go on the trip with me, I’d like to thank you for following this blog for the past 6 months. You have made this my most popular blog series ever. So popular in fact, that I might just start doing this with cities in America. But still follow this blog! I swear it’ll still be good! I will continue to do dangerous things while drugs in my veins put everyone around me in danger. It’ll be good fun.

Until then,

Peace

I'll never forget you Paul Jr.!!!!

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Rome & Pompeii

This isn't the When In Rome I was thinking of...

Here it is

You know what, I’m pretty sure the Lizzy McGuire movie was set in Rome too, so:

No, I didn't photoshop one of my tripmates face onto this pic.

Apparently only chick movies are set in Rome…

"WTF dude?"

Overview

Rome is the current capitol of Italy, and was the capitol of the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire.  At one point during its existence, a huge section was burned to the ground and was replaced by a Palace for Emperor Nero. I don’t really have a good joke for that, I just wanted to point out that if Nero didn’t cause the fire, then he was the most opportunistic dick ever. Rome is also the city where the Catholic Church (and all of Christianity) got its start. They also killed a bunch of people and exotic animals in the name of entertainment. I like to think of the Romans as visionaries in this area, mostly because the roman athletes weren’t really known for their life spans. My idea is this: Once an athlete from whatever sport gets on our collective nerves, we make them fight one another to the death. That way they still entertain us, but one of them is dead. Sure, this idea come too late to save us from T.O. or Kobe Bryant, but this could save us from us having to deal with countless other over paid clowns getting big heads and forgetting their place.

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city that was buried by volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius aka Europe’s Mordor.  It was buried for a few hundred years before it was rediscovered, which makes Italy the shittiest country to have a natural disaster in, because once a city is devastated, the goddamn government just forgets about it.

Thankfully, America has never done such a thing...

Initial Thoughts

I don’t remember my initial thoughts from Rome because at about that time the bath salts were kicking in, and I was busy being locked in the luggage compartment by my trip mates and tour guide, Andy to notice where we were. Actually that is the same thing that happened on our way to Pompeii. Damn, they really got me good, those bastards.

Accommodations

The accommodations in Rome were the worst on the trip after the hotel in Brussels (we didn’t have a hotel in Brussels). To get to our rooms my group (That’s right, all 36 of us) had to walk a labyrinth of hallways that I suspect took us from one building to another. Our hotel room was a little out dated, but OK, but it was our bathroom that is what really sealed the deal for this being the worst hotel stay. Here’s a blurry picture of our shower:

weird

Notice how the shower head is on the side of the shower, not the end. I don’t know the logic behind this, or if this even caused a problem, but it’s weird and I don’t like it. And then there was the doorknob leading out of the bathroom:

and this is ghetto

That’s right, it fell right the fuck off as I was turning it. Seriously, what the crap is that about? Rome, your city is beautiful, but your hotels are crap. Do something about that.

Sites

Well, there is a Hell of a lot to see in Rome. First off, I got to see the Spanish Steps:

I didn’t get to eat gelato while sitting on them, but I’ll just see to it that I do the next time I’m there.

Then there’s the Pantheon:

And the Trevi Fountain:

Fun fact about the Trevi fountain: if you throw three coins into the fountain, you ensure your return to Rome. Another fun fact about the Trevi fountain, there is apparently a special way to do this, which is over your right shoulder. I didn’t know that. So I looked retarded just throwing my coins right into that water like some asshole. Stupid Emily didn’t tell me there was a wrong way. She will pay for this.

Then there was the Vatican which is huge, crowded, and beautiful. As a catholic, I don’t really care all that much about religion, but I’ll tell you that the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were the most impressive churches I had seen on the entire trip. I didn’t get a picture of “The Creation of Adam” because I didn’t want my camera destroyed by the Swiss Guards. Also, it was really dark and my camera sucks at taking night pictures.

As for the Colosseum, I think my following story tells you all that you need to know:

I don't remember taking this picture at all, and quite frankly, I'm impressed they got me to stand still for that long.

Jon, Paul, Brennen, CJ, Katie, Michelle, and myself stepped off of the heavily graffitied subway train. They actually invited me along this time; I think they had given up on trying to get rid of me. So I skipped merrily in the center of this uneasy pack of Americans, each of them knowing that if I broke out of that ring, bad things were going to happen. A shady looking man eyed me and my skipping from across the station. He made eye contact with me. Bad move. With a surprising amount of agility, I leap frogged over CJ (the tallest of us), and ran in a full sprint towards the man, our eye contact unbroken.  The screams of my posse and their echoing footsteps followed me as I ran straight as this mystery man. I stopped within inches of him, and he flinched as my abrupt stop made my upper body lurch forward.

Rome, this is as classy as I deserve.

We continued to stare at one another for a few seconds as  my group came to a halt a little ways behind me, about twenty feet. They knew better than to get too close to me once someone makes unwarranted eye contact.

“What the hell do you want?” the man said.

“All of your drugs,” I replied.

“What makes you think that I have drugs on me?”  the man growled.

“I can sense them on you. Now are you going to sell me all of your drugs, or am I going to have to take them from you?”

The man smiled and pulled out a handful of small baggies filled with an assortment of colored powders. I drooled a little. I handed him a fistful of bills and snatched the baggies out of his hand. I opened the bag with the pink powder and began rubbing it on my gums while making gnawing noises that made everyone uncomfortable.

“Do you even want to know what these drugs are?” The man asked.

“And ruin the excitement of taking mystery drugs? Puh-lease.”

“That just sounds stupid,” the man stated.

I smiled and then replied, “Not nearly as stupid as looking me in the eyes.”

Just like always, I punched the man hard in the heart before he or anyone else could react. The man stumbled backward before falling to the ground, dead.  My patented death punch claimed another victim. I pulled my cash out of his dead hands, and turned back to my posse.

“Let’s go,” I said brightly to their horrified faces.

We made our way out of the station and across the street to the Colosseum. By the time we got to the entrance of the Behomoth structure, I had finished all of the drugs that I had “bought” from the dealer.

As we entered the Colosseum, I had managed to break the circle around me and get to the front of the group. I walked forward for a few seconds when I noticed something disturbing.

“Hey guys,” I called back, “The drugs that guy gave me were shit; I’m not feeling anything.”

They didn’t reply. In fact they and everybody else went totally quiet. I turned around to ask why they  didn’t respond, but when I did, everybody was gone.  Hmm, I thought, if I’m alone, that means I don’t have to wear pants. Either do to some kind of magical force, or to the fact that I seemed to have temporarily lost control of my hands, I looked down and realized that my pants were already around my ankles. Thank God I decided to free ball it. At that same moment, a roar of applause thundered from above me.

“Well, it’s about time somebody cheers that I take my pants off.” I called out to the disembodied applause.

My good mood was almost extinguished when I felt four hands grab firmly onto my shoulders. I looked behind me to see two rather large Roman soldiers scowling down at me.

They turned me around, and one said to the other in Latin which I inexplicably understood, “this man is wearing very strange clothes. Do you think he is a gladiator?”

I slapped this man. “Of course I’m a gladiator, Roman,” I even more inexplicably said in Latin, “You people brought me from my country to fight, after all. And my name is Miniganimus Blackwoodsaccus. Learn that name, for it is the name that even the Devil fears.”

The two soldiers looked uncertainly at on another, shrugged, and began dragging me away.

“Well, Miniganimus, your fight is close at hand. You need to prepare yourself for the battle.

There was a burst of boos and catcalls from above. After a few seconds of confusion as to what’s going on, I finally figured it out. Because of how badass the Colosseum was and how awesome I am, when I entered the building it created a time portal which took me back to the Colosseum’s hayday. Yeah, that’s totally what happened. I probably had to right some wrong in the past and also bed some emperor’s daughter.

Excited about this revelation, I freed myself from their grip, grabbed one of their swords, and stabbed one of the soldiers right in his goddamn eye.  I screamed, “Miniganimus Blackwoodsaccus is going to fuck up some gladiators and exotic animals for some empress snatch!” I then hobbled off (my pants were still around my ankles) and into the lower levels of the stadium.

Once there, I found the place I was to prepare myself for the fight. In my room, or rather, the room that I had claimed for myself, there was a wire metal mannequin wearing my armor, protective belt, and helmet. The metal glimmered in the dim light. I hungered for it. As fast as I could with my pants around my ankles, I made my way over to the mannequin so that I could get ready for my fight. The helmet was easy enough to remove, but the breast plate refused to come off. After several minutes of fighting, swearing and threats to bestow pain that no one has ever felt before on the mannequin, it finally released my armor and belt. To teach the stupid wire-man a lesson, I picked it up and threw it out of the room. As it clattered on the floor, I turned around and put on my armor. The armor, simply put, was weird. It didn’t fit me well; it was much looser that what you’d expect armor to be, but it was very light and breezy, which I decided must help me retain my agility. Clearly the Romans had this whole armor thing worked out. But I guess they should, you don’t become an empire by killing off all of your soldiers.

I removed my pants the rest of the way, and made my way through the labyrinth  of passages to the Colosseum floor. I stepped out from the dark hallway and into the warm golden light of the open stadium and the crowd roared with excitement. I sauntered out to the middle of the stadium, waving to my adoring fans all the while. Then, I saw her. The emperor’s daughter sat on a golden throne at the center of the field. She was draped it a vibrant red dress that looked like it was made out of her own sweet breath. And boy was she hot. I mean Olivia Wilde’s level of hot. You know what, let’s just go ahead and assume that this empress was Olivia Wilde.

My sweet, sweet Empress

I walked towards the majestic beauty that was the Empress, and when she smiled at me, I felt a rush of adrenaline that made even my most violent of benders seem tame. I bowed to her, while being aware, yet indifferent to the fact that I was exposing my anus the rest of the crowd.

“I,” I called to the empress once I finished my bow, “Miniganimus Blackwoodsaccus, declare that the blood I spill on this day will be spilled for you, my radiant empress.”

She gave a curt smile, which I took as that I had properly moistened her panties. Fuck yeah, I’m practically in. I wish I could have continued with the wooing of Empress Olivia Wilde, but the crowd roared back to life as a group of five retiariuses stepped into the stadium and began their advance towards me.

Being out numbered and out weaponed, I decided that my one sword was not enough for the five sets of tridents, daggers, and nets that were going to try and ruin my day, so I ran to the closest wall and picked up a heavy metal chain that was laying there. I began to swing it over my head, and I waited for one of these dumb bastards to get too close. One eventually did, and with one swing of my chain, I was able to hit him hard on the head, effectively knocking him out. The next blocked my chain with his trident and attempted to stab me with his dagger. His dagger was too short, but unfortunately for him my sword was long enough to reach him (As it always is, ladies). I stabbed him in his chest and then slashed at his face. As he fell to the ground as a bleeding lump, the other three retiariuses (or retardiuses, Am I right!) stepped forward. Learining from the other two’s mistakes, they attacked me at once, using their nets to grab ahold of my chain and their tridents to stab me. But with one unexpected flourish of my wrist, I was able to knock all three tridents out of their hands. I rushed in and plunged my sword right into the first retiarius’s groin. I lifted him up over my head and let him land on his. I then turned to the second one, and swung hard at his temple. My sword made its mark, and that one fell too. The fifth and final retiarius, seeing what I did to his friends, decided to run away. Stupid move. I chased the coward down and tackled him. With one quick move, my blade sliced his throat and ended his weak existence.

I stood up to claim my prize of empress ass when I heard a roar come from behind me. Slowly I turned around.

“Tiger!”

AAAAHHHHH!

The large feline beast stared me down, waiting for me to make a move. I stared back, rapidly thinking of my best course of action to kill the beautiful creature. Before I had even made my decision, my legs were racing towards the tiger, the rest of my body being dragged along by them. With one impressive jump, I was able to leap over the tiger’s swiping paws, and land on its back. The cat kicked and thrashed, its sharp claws scratching my arms and face. After a few minutes of intense jungle cat wrasslin’ the tiger was too tired to fight on, and I was easily able to dispose of it. I did it quick because I felt that the tiger was a worthy adversary and that it deserved all of my respect.

After a second or two of silence, the Colosseum practically ejaculated with applause and cheers. I ran to the Empress who was now in the fighting arena. Her beaming smile warmed my heart, and I knew that I needed to have her right then. I wrapped my arms around her and filled her mouth with the most passionate kiss of her life. I felt her buckle as her tongue danced with mine, as our souls became one. I felt several guards pull me off of her, but I didn’t care; this was the happiest day of my life. I fell in love, I found my place in the world, and I got to legally kill people.

And as they pinned me to the ground, I could still hear the crowd chant my name, “Miniganimus, Miniganimus, Miniganimus…”

“…Minigan? Minigan. Minigan wake the fuck up.”

I stirred and opened my eyes. The first thing I saw were several thin, yet deep scratches on my arms. As my eyes moved their way up my arms, I noticed that I was wearing a turquoise floral blouse and a hot pink fanny pack that was blatantly not covering up my junk. I looked upward and noticed a pink brim right above me. I felt for it and realized that I was wearing a pink baseball cap as well.

“What the hell happened?” I asked, “Where’s the empress? I was so close to tapping that!”

“I don’t know that you’re talking about Minigan,” Paul snapped, as he kept me pinned firmly to the ground, “all I know is that you are a crazy bastard that probably shouldn’t be alive right now.

“I know!” I answered, “Did you see me fight those 5 retiariuses? That was so bad-ass!”

“No,” he retorted, “But I did see you beat the shit out of those five Colosseum guards with a billy club and a chain.”

“Wait. What?”

“Oh,” CJ said sarcastically as he walked up, “You’re confused? Here, we’ll start from the fucking beginning. After you punched that guy in the chest and filled yourself with the stolen drugs, we came over to the Colosseum. We were barely inside when you started to say, ‘guys, the drugs that guy gave me were shit’ before you trailed off. You then turned around and pulled your pants down. Two of the guards saw this and grabbed you. That’s when you said something in tongues, grabbed one of their billy-clubs and hit one of them in the face with it. You then ran into the woman’s rest room. Within seconds we heard a woman scream.”

Paul let me up and continued CJ’s story, “Apparently you stole her hat, blouse and fanny pack and then threw her outside. After about a minute you came out wearing the stuff you stole from her. You then ran out the exit to where we are now. You started to wave at no one until five guards came after you, two of which you had already attacked. You took them all out with a chain barrier and the billy-club.”

“and what about the tiger I fought?” I asked.

“What you mean the stray cat you tackled?” Jon replied as he handed me my pants, “It’s over there. Michelle is taking care of it. We’re amazed that you didn’t kill the poor thing.”

It still looks a little pissed at me

I looked over and sure enough, Michelle was petting a terrified looking cat while casting dark scowls at me.

“But, but what about the empress?” I asked, “Please tell me it was really Olivia Wilde. I so want to believe that I just made out with Olivia Wilde.”

“Well, you did make out with someone, but it wasn’t Olivia Wilde,” Paul replied, “It was Brennen.”

They turned their heads to a quivering mass about five feet away that Katie was tending to. She looked at us and called, “I think he’s going into shock.”

“Well that wouldn’t be the first time one of my kisses had sent someone into shock (ladies),” I replied, “but assuming from the amout of drugs I had injested, I’m going to go ahead and say he’s probably having some kind of messed up hallucination right now. We should get him back to the hotel so that he can sleep it off.”

“And that’s it?” CJ cried, “Brennen just sleeps of the drugs and the fact that you almost molested him and everything is OK?!?!”

“Yep,” I replied, “That’s usually how it goes.”

“Well, fuck you, Minigan.” He screamed, “you’ve taken this shit too far this time. I’m going to get you kicked off of this trip. I swear it.”

“Ah, come on, at least I didn’t do anything to you, and besides, think of the stories you’re going to have once you get back to the states. Now, c’mon everybody, let’s have some of that wine!”

See, everything turned out OK.

And then we had some wine, laughed at my antics and just generally had a good time tailgating the Colosseum. And everything was better.

__________________

Well, that went longer than what I was expecting. Here some info on Pompeii. You can adopt puppies from there. If there was one thing that I took from Pompeii, it was that. Not the fact that they recycled their broken pots my putting them in concrete, not that they carved penises into the streets to point horny travelers to one of Pompeii’s brothels, not even that you get to see the remains of dead bodies, it’s totally the puppy thing.  Honestly, Pompeii was the place I was looking forward to most on this trip, and it didn’t disappoint at all. How can it? It’s really just ruins. But it was still amazing in a desolate ghost town kind of way. I wish I would have got to see more of it.

he he he he..... dong

finally, a corpse that I didn't have anything to do with

Food

Before I go into anything that deals with what I ate, check out the pasta CJ got for lunch when we left the Vatican:

Now that's what I call penne pasta! HO! UP TOP!!!

That’s right, he got a plate full O’Dicks. What he ordered was the daily special, which gives us a lot of information to go on about the owner of that particular restaurant. CJ was a good sport though; he laughed with us, and ate all those dicks without any complaints or jokes about their being a weird cream sauce mixed in.

Other than the gnocchi that I ate on our second day in Rome (the same meal that CJ had the penis pasta), I don’t remember what I ate in Rome. For our second dinner, I was hammered, but I did get a pic of the bruschetta that we had before our main course:

That dinner, by the way, was amazing. That is, of course, a biased opinion because I was shit faced, but I had a blast drunkenly singing “That’s Amore!” with the guitar player that was entertaining us. Of course, the night wasn’t all fun and drunken games for those of us who aren’t Jon, Paul, Brennen, and CJ (They were out until, like 6:00 AM). No, sadly, two of our trip mates, Tristan and Erica were leaving the next morning. Tristan was going back to London to start her study abroad program, and Erica was just headed back to the states because her parents didn’t want her flying back from Greece. We missed them, and I assume they missed the Hell out of me.

Erica or Tristan, call me.

Anyway, as for the rest of the food I ate in Rome, I don’t remember at all. I remember eating at this place, even though I don’t remember what I got:

Also, I assume I ate more gelato. I fucking love gelato.

Alcohol

Good, cheap wine again. After our trip to the Vatican, Jon, Paul, Brennen, CJ, Katie and I stopped at a market to load up on cheap wine so that we could tailgate the Colosseum, just like the ancient Romans would.  We merrily drank wine from the Colosseum all the way back to our hotel, where we partied in Jon and Paul’s room. We then drank some Swiss beer that we had on our trip to the restaurant for dinner. What I’m getting at is that I got hammered that day.

we were drunk here, and this was early in the night

People

Well, other than Paul cussing out an Italian kid, who turned out to be able to speak English (Why is every European multilingual? Does our schools system suck that bad?), I didn’t talk to a whole lot of Italians. They mostly gave us weird looks for taking full advantage of their open alcohol container laws. Seriously, Europeans, you have no clue how lucky you have it with that. But with those people aside, Italians seemed to be very hospitable and laid back. Maybe it’s my Italian heritage, but I love taking two to three hours to eat a meal. And I’m not being sarcastic about that, nor am I going to say that I like it because it gives the booze a fighting chance to get me drunk (even though it totally does and I love that). It is just so relaxing.

I do have one caveat with Italians, however. They are kind of pushy when you’re walking somewhere. I guess that it may have something to do with them wasting most of their day eating their meals at a leisurely pace.

Overall Atmosphere

Again, this is relatively the same as Northern Italy, just with the added bustling city and ancient ruins of Rome. What the Hell do you people want from me? Just look at the goddamn pictures:

That's totally not phallic, Italy. Nope, not phallic at all

the ruins of "Old Rome" as I like to call it because I forgot its real name

Mt. Vesuvius, waiting...

I think these guys might just love my antics

inside the Vatican, I see God

My douchey artistic pic of outside the Colosseum

my douchey, artistic pic of the Roman Arc from inside the Colosseum

my douchey artistic pic of a alleyway in Pompeii

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Austria

The Hills are alive with the sound of alcoholism!

Overview

Austria, also known as “Germany Lite,” was the birthplace of four famous historical figures: Mozart, Hitler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the greatest tour guide ever (Our tour guide) Andy.  To make Andy seem better than the other three (Like I need to), I’m going to talk some trash on the other three. Mozart was a sickly and girly voiced douchebag, Hitler was a filthy vegetarian (as well as the killer of a bunch of Jews) and Schwarzenegger is shorter than he claims, the lying bastard.

Dude, I was just kidding. Put the knife down. We all know you're over six feet. Please don't hurt me.

Austria was a part of the Roman Empire for a while, what with it sharing a border with Italy and all, up until the 16th century, when it became one of the main powers in Europe. It then became the Austrian Empire in 1804, which then became the Austria-Hungary Empire in 1867. Then, in 1914, the assassination of the band Franz Ferdinand triggered World War I, which ended the Austria-Hungary Empire.

Initial Thoughts

My initial thoughts were: “Austria, eh? Well, let’s put another shrimp on the barbay!”

"Wanna get freaky?"

I said this to Brennen and Sammy, but none of them seemed to appreciate it as much as me. Then, once we reached our hotel in Altenmarkt, I updated my facebook letting everyone who cared that I had made it into Austria. My dad replied to my status with the same quote that I used above, and Hollie, a girl on my trip from Wyoming, replied with, “That’s Australia.”

uh DUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHH!

Clearly I was one of few people on the trip who’s actually seen “Dumb and Dumber.” But yeah, I’m the crazy one who is not fit for high society (or any regular society, as they say). You know what? Maybe they’re right; I am a crazy bastard, and I’ve put them in danger seven times, and that was just the two days before we made it into Austria. And one of those times, one of our tripmates ended up dying (Rest in peace, Greg. We all miss you). But still, they haven’t seen Dumb and Dumber.

Point: Me.

Accommodations

This was our room:

Holy shit, look at that TV!

this is only the washroom

This is the water closet. Yeah, we have a two-part bathroom.

And this was the view from our room:

And THIS is the pool area:

The pool as a tree!?!?

And the spa area:

And the sauna:

fuck yes

What I’m getting at here is that the hotel was awesome. Well, it was being renovated in some areas that they set up a blockade to. And by “blockade”  I mean they set up sheets and mattresses in front of the door ways. Needless to say, the guys and I checked that shit out. Other than that, I spent my two days in Austria chilling at the spa- well, after visiting Salzburg, going for a hike in the Alps, and white water rafting. That really brings my relaxation time down to four hours, but it was a goddamn relaxing four hours. I got to sit in a steam room, which combines my four favorite things: extreme humidity, nice smells, not being able to see far in front of me, and not doing anything. I then hopped into the sauna and let my body sweat as I had some quality bro-time with our tour guide.

We stayed at a Ski Lodge in the small, practically uninhabited town of Altenmarkt. No, this didn’t result in a Scooby Doo-esque mystery, but we did all discuss how we were probably in a horror movie. And who’s part each of us had. We decided that:
Either Cie Cie or Paul would die first, because they were our only two minorities on the trip. We figured that it would probably be Paul, since he’s a frat boy.

Sorry Paul

Anna would die second, because she’s Anna. And also loud.

We then decided that one of the sorority girls would die next, which means either Julie, Tristan, straight hair Lauren, or April.

After that, things get a little hazy and we don’t know who would die next, but we figured that either Kevin or Nick (The two nicest guys on the trip) would be the killer, and the other would survive. I pointed out that I would either be the hero, or I would die the coolest death, so they agreed that I would die the coolest death, because the douchebag usually does anyway. Zack would probably die heroically to save his girlfriend, Shar, and that other than Shar, Natalie and the other nice guy would be the only survivors.

Unless Natalie was the real killer all along…

I'm pretty sure Nat did it.

Sites

In Salzburg, there a few major sites, like Mozart’s house or where they shot The Sound of Music. They also have a statue of Mozart, a pretty epic fountain, and a castle on the edge of a cliff. While in Salzburg, most of the woman visited the palace that was the set of The Sound of Music, a group of us guys decided to go check out Mozart’s house. Well, we checked out the front of it, and decided if we’d ever come back, we’d totally go in.

One day, Mozart's house, one day...

As I said, Altenmarkt was pretty much a ghost town while we were there, what with it being a ski resort town on a Sunday in the middle of the summer, But they still had tons of great views on the dozens of hiking trails. What was also cool about the hiking trails is that they had several different workout activities placed around the bottom of the mountain. Nick and I stopped on our way back down so that I could try to do the iron cross. I totally did it on my first try. Isn’t that right, Nick?

Nick, don't make me do something we'd both regret.

Anyway, closer to the top of the mountain we stumbled upon some freaky, Blair Witch Project shit. Check this out:

Well, that's not that terrif-AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

OK, just a little weird, right, well how about this? You could see figures through the cracks in between the boards, and I assumed they were real people trying to scare/ murder us. Where we were was incredibly quiet and insulated with enough alpine forest that no one would ever hear screams.

And on a unrelated note, those two straw people kind of look like they’re humping. Just sayin’.

Food

In Salzburg, I had a bratwurst hotdog with mustard. It was amazing. The bun was warm and flaky and the brat itself tied with the brat I had in Heidelberg. But I did burn my mouth on it a little, so I guess I should deduct a few points for it in that respect. Sorry Austria.

I also had schnitzel again. And again, it was delicious. I had it this time at our dinner in Altenmarkt with my entire group. I assume everyone who wasn’t a vegetarian loved it, and I’m glad that they didn’t know that schnitzel isn’t schnitzel  unless it is made out of veal. PETA, apparently, isn’t a thing over in Germany. So that’s two things that Central Europe has in common with the American South. I honestly don’t mind eating veal, but then again, I don’t care what animal I’m eating as long as the meat that came from it tastes good.

I would like a steak of that with a side of carrots and a plate of cheddar bay Seabiscuits.

Alcohol

Honestly, I don’t think I drank much in Austria. However it could be that I was so hammered the entire time I was in Austria that I don’t actually remember drinking anything.

Yeah, it was probably that second one.

People

Well, The Austrian I had the most contact with was our tourguide, Andy, who I mentioned above as being the greatest thing to come out of Austria since schnitzel (I really loved that stuff), but  I was worried that Andy’s awesomness wasn’t an accurate depiction of all Austrians. I mean, other countries don’t base their assumptions of America on only one American, do they?

Well, shit.

The people I met in Altenmarkt were pretty nice, and they tolerated me and my antics, like riding a bear through their lobby and locking Natalie in the steam room because she gave me lip, so I’ve got to say that, definitively, all Austrians are amazing. They should be the poster children of Europe, not those dirty, dirty French.

Overall Atmosphere

One word: Serene

Altenmarkt (because it was a weekend during the off season) was magically peaceful. I literally saw only one person in town and a total of three cars. This was a great stop on our trip because it finally gave us an opportunity to sit and relax. The views everywhere were beautiful,  and even though it was cold and rainy the two days we were there, the place was still majestic. And it’s even more majestic when you see it while riding a bear.

OK, Pictures:

FYI This is Mozart. Yes, I thought he was a pudgy woman too.

Nick is on the far right. We had just come back down from our hike. Clearly, we should have waited for this group.

White water rafting is so metal

The MEN

Peace out

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Germany

Yes, I did party in Germany with George W. Bush, twin Justin Biebers, and the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Overview

Germany is one of the newest countries in Europe, it being founded in the mid-1800s after conglomerating a bunch of different Germanic states, including Prussia, into one large Germanic state. They quickly launched themselves onto the global scene by colonializing parts of Africa and then Invading France. The latter event was a little snaffoo known as World War 1, which was, as American History has told me, all Germany’s fault. Although, Cracked.com has shown good evidence that it was actually a sandwich’s fault.

Then there was a little kerfuffle known as World War 2, which I’m going to assume none of you care to hear about right now. Therefore I’ll just give you a few important words that should give you an idea of what it was all about: evil mustache, Yakama camps, human suffering, the fires of a thousand suns.

Since then, Germany has certainly liberaled up. What with their equal rights and so forth. They are also really into weird shit when it comes to the bedroom.

Initial Thoughts

This is Bull. Shit. I can’t believe that I have to pay a Euro just to use a public restroom. This is by far the worst atrocity that Germany has done against humanity, and that includes keeping David Hasselhoff’s comatose career alive. I swear to Odin that this better be the best bathroom I’ve ever pooped in, or I’m going to tear down the economy of all of Europe. I mean, there better be a solid gold toilet seat and a poo butler to wipe my butt afterwards. Seriously, I will break the economy of all of Europe if it doesn’t ha-

“Guten Tag!” said a funny looking old man wearing a sharp black suit.

I eyed him curiously and then returned his greeting, completely mispronouncing it as it rolled lazily out of my mouth.

“Ah you must be an American!” he exclaimed a thick German accent, “Velcome to ze men’s room at ze train station of Koln, Germany! I am your Hüttediener, or poop servant. How may I be of assistance?”

“Oh wow,” I stammered, completely taken aback by the existence of a poop servant. I was just being sarcastic when I thought that, but I decided to see what else they’ve got. “Take me to your golden seated toilet, please,” I said in a dignified manner after regrouping. The man bowed, revealing a perfectly circular bald spot on the top of his head, and lead me to the nearest stall. He opened the opaque glass door for me and I stepped in. Immediately I was bathed in a golden light. Right in front of me stood a golden toilet that sat on a pediment of white marble.  I walked to it slowly, just soaking the image and the moment in. It was truly the most magnificent thing I have ever seen. I pulled down my pants, and chills went up my spine as I rested my cheeks on the comfortably warm, golden seat. Instantly a choir of angels erupted into a glorious rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s symphony, Messiah.

After I was finished doing my business, the Hüttediener asked me if I wanted him to wipe me, which I politely declined. He respected my refusal, but insisted that he wash my hands for me. As he lathered up my hands, I commented on my disbelief that they had solid gold toilets in Germany, and how utterly amazing the experience was.

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, herr Blackwood,” the man replied, “But zose toilets are only gold plated. Solid gold toilets vould be das crazy ya!”

I stood there, frozen, for a couple of seconds before I was able to speak. When I did, the words shook with anger, “You mean those toilets aren’t solid gold?”

Fear washed over the man’s heavily lined face. He gulped, “No, I’m sorry sir but zose would be too AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

I grabbed the man by the side of his face and slammed him into the mirror over the sink. When I let go, the man fell into a wet and bloody heap on the floor. I then raised my fists to the air and screamed, “EEEEEEUUUUUUUURRRRRRRROOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Within minutes I was back on the bus. I was the last one in, and it looked like everyone was waiting for me. “C’mon, Andy, Let’s go,” I snapped as I walked down the aisle to my seat behind Brennen, “We need to go now. I need to enact some revenge against Europe as soon as possible. Also, I might have killed a guy back there.”

And that is why Europe’s economy is going to Hell and Germany is going to have to bail out the entire continent.

Accommodations

I don’t really remember much about where we stayed in Munich, except that the place was called the Atlas and I might have had to carry my luggage up the stairs to my room. My roommate also didn’t get any pictures of the room, so I think it is safe to say that the lack of information on the Munich hotel is mostly his fault.

However, I do remember the place where we stayed in Heidelberg.  The place was actually pretty magnificent. It had a large indoor courtyard area whose ceiling was nothing but glass. The rooms were a descent size, and my room had a view to an outdoor courtyard.  This Hotel was also within walking distance to a bar, so that was pretty cool also. But the coolest thing from the hotel room was this:

That is a leather recliner, and after 10 days of nonstop Eurotouring, this was the greatest thing that ze Germans could have given me. I only got to sit it for about 30 seconds, but was an amazing and relaxing 30 seconds. That would be my last time to relax until we got to Altenmarkt, Austria. And even then I had hiking and white water rafting before I was able to get to the relaxing part. [sigh] This trip was such an ordeal.

(Note: this next section will feature jokes about the Holocaust, so strap in!)

Sites

One of the first places we saw was the Cathedral in Cologne, or Koln (pronounced Kuerrn) if you’re a self-righteous douchebag like Jimmy Kohlberg. It was pretty cool. I didn’t go inside because I was hungry and needed to piss (what else is new?) but I did get a good look at its impressive façade,  and I’ve got to admit, it was a cathedral. It was all church like and everything.

Pictured: the only thing worth seeing in Koln Germany according to our tour guide, Andy.

The next thing we did in Deutschland was go on a cruise down the Rhine river. I saw castles! I saw a statue of a crying woman! I saw water! I saw it all while drinking beer and chilling on a boat with Zack and the Jersey boys, John and Paul.

One of the many castles I will own (or haunt) one day.

Then I saw this concentration camp:

Never Forget

People pretended to be confused when I started to act all solumn and yelled at them for not being somber in a place like that. “You’re insane, Minigan,” They said. “That’s just a playground,” they said. Really? It’s a playground? And where are the kids, in school? Bullshit. This was a concentration camp, and I had the feeling in my gut to prove it. They’re just haters. That’s why they gave me dirty looks and refused to talk to me for the rest of the day.

Anyway, after the surprise concentration camp visit, we visited the Heidelberg Castle and got to see the giant vats of wine, and also, ruins.

Yes, the cask is so big that people can throw a party on them.

I was disappointed with the Blackforest. Not because it was unimpressive or where we stopped was boring, but because it rained the entire time we were there, and I was really hoping  on going on a quick hike there. Especially because I wanted to have a run in with a wolf. Let me explain. My name, Minigan comes from the Native American word “mingan” which means “wolf.”  I would like to hope that my last name is self-explanatory (for those of you who don’t know, it’s Blackwood, it’s actually Scottish, and also, you suck). This means that my name means “Wolf of the Black Woods or Black Forest.” I also firmly believe that my spirit animal is a wolf, mostly because that is what every personality quiz on Facebook has told me. I wanted to meet a wolf in the Black Forest because I expected us to have one of those moments where we’re spiritually linked. You know, like how Frank Reynolds from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” did with that rabbit.

Like this, only with a wolf and me not wearing a leather suit

Anyway, since it was raining, I didn’t get to do that, and that means that the entire Black Forest visit was a waste for me. Well, not a total waste, I did try schnitzel there (I’ll come back to that later).

Then we were on our way to Munich, with a brief 2 day side stop in Switzerland and Lichtenstien. (I’ll talk about those in a different blog post.) While in Munich, we stopped in the famous Hofbrauhaus, the very same one in which my friend, Connor Randal’s penis exploded six years before (That’s also a whole other story, and one that I need permission to tell). Anyway, my group partied there, we chatted with the locals, my roommate found someone that he knew from school but did not go on the trip with us, and nobody’s penis exploded. Overall, I think it was a successful trip to the Hofbrauhaus.

The Hofbrahaus is, in every sense of the word, amazing: it is a maze that will zing you with amazement (See what I did there?). It has the look and the feel of an giant cafeteria, except with fancy paintings on the wall, polka bands playing, and tons of beer.  It’s one of those places that you immediately feel at home in. You don’t have to fight for a place at the bar; the beer comes to you. Well, at least it did when I was there. Anyway, it had an old world feel to it, which made it comfortable, but  it still felt like a place that should exist in our time. Basically, I loved that place.

What could follow a night of drinking at the legendary Hofbrauhaus? A trip to the concentration camp, Dachau, that’s what. Compared to what I originally assumed was a concentration camp, Dachau was really depressing. There were barbed wire fences with watch towers, a gas chamber, and no playground equipment. Clearly horrible things occurred there. On the whole, Dachau was pretty depressing, what with the memorials to the people who suffered there, to the spots where the barracks used to stand, and all the pictures of when it was a functioning concentration camp. And what was with all the drab colors and peeling paint? C’mon Germany, the least you could do is spruce the place up a little bit. It’s not like I’m asking you to commit genocide. Besides, you should be comfortable with that already. Ooh! Zing!

lol but seriously, terrible things happened here

Food

When you think of German food, you usually think of Bratwurst and sauerkraut, maybe even schnitzel depending on whether or not you consider food stolen from Austria “German.” In this case I am. I did have all three of those food, the first being the bratwurst and sauerkraut. For a person who doesn’t really like sauerkraut, I didn’t have to force myself to eat their sauerkraut, but that could have something to do with the fact that I had to cut it with mashed potatoes. The bratwurst, simply put, was amazing. It was the best brat that I’ve ever eaten, and I know this because when I got back to the states, I ate one at a party and was immediately disappointed.

Then there was the schnitzel. Jesus yodeling Christ. Schnitzel is literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. After the first bite, it became my new favorite food. The fact that I haven’t eaten it since I returned from Europe is a travesty all within itself. In all honesty, I would push an old woman down a well just to get some delicious, delicious schnitzel.

The Bavarian food? Eh- not so much. In Munich, we ate at a Bavarian restaurant and had some kind of pork and gravy dish with a potato dumpling. And by “potato dumpling” I think they meant, “glue ball.” That is sure what it’s consistency was like. As for the pork and gravy, it kind of reminded me of a TV dinner, and I don’t mean that in a good way (wait, is there a good way?).

Alcohol

Oh German beer, you set the standard for all of the world’s beer. And the rest of the world fails miserably at keeping up to that standard. German beer is strong, and delicious, and cheap, AND you get a lot of it.

Why liter beers didn't migrate over to America with the Germans who founded Pennsylvania is beyond me.

Germans, especially southern Germans, drink beer from liter steins. Liter beers might be mankind’s greatest invention since God, or war, or “God of War.” After drinking a liter of beer from one of the giant-ass mugs, you cannot help but think, “Germans have to be good people. No evil person could have ever come up with something so perfect. I think we should let that WWII thing go already. It’s in the passt… I’ve been wunderin’ why Waldo keeps hindin’-hic-. Is he in sum kind of witness projection-hic- program? If he is, he should-hic- stay out of-hic- big crowdz… BLUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH”

People

Shortly put, Germans are weird. While I was walking around the streets of Munich, I saw one guy is leather short shorts and a vest with chains on it, a little while later I saw a woman with blue hair. I would like to point out that this woman’s hair looked like it would be a black fro if she let it grow out, and no, this woman was white. Really. I swear if I would have gotten pictures of these people I would have posted them here. I would have also dedicated my entire post on Germany to making fun of these people.

However, the Amazing Paul Khoo (That’s his full name) did manage to get a picture of this German man and his “stepson.”

They are the two on the left- the two that clearly look like they belong there.

I’m going to give you my theory on this one. Don’t take it to heart and go to Germany to find this man, but I don’t believe that that is that man’s step son. I believe that he bought that boy was stolen from his home in the war torn parts of Coloumbia, and was shipped to Germany to be a sex slave to Baron Von Count up there. Look at his pretty, youthful, obviously non-Arian face. It screams, “Help me, he keeps me locked in a dungeon.” Granted, I believe that every German resident owns a sex slave that they keep locked up in the dungeon of their castle, so I might be a little biased on that one.

Brennen's exact thoughts at that moment: "Oh my God, this guy's hand is on my leg. It's moving higher, higher HIGHER!!!! I NEED AN ADULT!!!!

Overall Atmosphere

Germany is kind of all over the place with “overall atmosphere.” It’s like judging the overall atmosphere of America after seeing New York City, The Smoky Mountains, Las Vegas, and a Native American Reservation all within 2 days. You’ve got the business like atmosphere of Koln and the majesty, mysteriousness of the Black Forest and the Rhine River, and then there’s the party place that is Munich. And to top it all off, you have the areas that stand as testaments to human cruelty. But Germany is a spectacularly beautiful country. I’m not really sure why they would want to invade or colonize any other country (especially Russia) if every square meter of their country belongs on a postcard. And yes, I am including Dachau in on that statement.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I might just go to Hell for this.

OK. Time for more pictures!

The view from atop the castle at Heidelberg

Heidelberg

This is a church that was near our hotel in Munich.

The door to the gas chamber

This would be a really depressing way to end this blog, so here’s a picture of me in front the Glockenspiel in Munich.

Ta da!

Peacen schrouten!

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: The Netherlands

Is’t That Vierd?!?!

Overview

Let’s get the confusion out of the way right now. The Netherlands is the name of the entire country, Holland is a section of the country, and Amsterdam is the capital city. I shit thee not, this caused a lot of confusion on my bus.

When most people think of the Dutch (What people from The Netherlands call themselves), they think of only 2 things: wooden shoes and legalized marijuana. This is completely accurate. One thing, however, that most people don’t realize is that Holland is the New Orleans of Europe more than just because of the crazy sex and the mountains of drugs. Geographically speaking, The Netherlands is  like New Orleans because they both are shaped like bowls and their lowest points are below sea level.  And while The Netherlands do not get Hurricanes so they shouldn’t be allowed to bitch, flooding is still a serious problem for the Dutch. This is why they have canals, NOT because they are trying to steal Venice’s thunder, although that shouldn’t be ruled out quite yet. If we start seeing gondolas in Amsterdam we’ll know for sure. But by then it will be far too late.

I stole a Dutch giant’s shoes!

Initial Thoughts

To best explain my first thoughts upon arriving in The Netherlands, I’m going to relay a conversation that occurred between my good friend and fellow traveler, Brennen, and myself:

[Minigan wakes up screams]

Minigan- Wha- Where the fuck am I?!?!

Brennen- [turns around] Minigan! You’re awake! That’s good; we thought you might have died. You filled yourself with a lot of random chemicals before we left Brussels. Ha ha, classic Minigan.

Minigan- [jumps up] WHO ARE YOU?!?!?!

Brennen-[confused stare] I’m Brennen…. We’ve been on this trip together for the past week. I saved you from that angry mob of British people after you tried to get an up-skirt shot of the Queen.

Minigan- [laughs] I would do something like that. But if you’re really my friend, why am I covered in this thick mucus like substance? [he gasps]  WHAT DID YOU GUYS DO TO ME?

Brennen- Dude, that’s drool. We heard you gurgling about an hour ago. That’s how we knew you weren’t dead and to not stuff you under the bus with all the luggage.

Minigan- Oh, sweet. So where are we?

Brennen- We’re in The Netherlands now. We’re a couple of hours away from Amsterdam. Andy said that we will be stopping soon to clean out all the broken glass and blood. How did you get that deer on the bus anyway?

Minigan-[not listening to Brennen but staring out the window] This is the Netherlands?

Brennen- Yeah, we’re almost to-

Minigan- Where are all the tulips?

Brennen- What?

Minigan- The tulips. The Dutch grow them here. I want to frolic through them.

Brennen-  Is that another one of your weird code phrases that means you’re going  to do a lot of drugs, because I still haven’t gotten the blood stains out of my dress shirt from last time.

I mean both meanings

Minigan- I told you I rage.

Brennen- yeah, but you forgot to mention the whole “roid” part of the rage. And besides, tulips only grow in the spring.

Minigan- [not listening, looking out the window again] Where are the windmills? And the lesbians? Man, The Netherlands sure are disappointing so far.

Brennen- I’m sure we’ll see some soo- Wait. Did you say lesbians?

Minigan- Yeah, lesbians. Holland is supposed to be crawling with them.

Brennen-  I’ve never heard of that before.

Minigan- I swear it’s a thing- Dutch lesbians. My one friend told me that The Netherlands has tons of dykes.

Brennen- [sitting quietly and staring at Minigan for a few seconds] You are either a complete moron, or the worst kind of person ever.

Minigan- Don’t pretend to not know which one it is. We both know that you know.

Accommodations

Much better than in Brussels, I can say that much.  Although our hotel was more out of the way than anyplace else we had stayed so far. The rooms were still kind of fun in an Oddly-shaped-and-inconvienent kind of way. The Bathroom was circular, which at first seems cool, until you remember that you’re talking about hotel rooms, and that all hotel rooms are rectangular. This means that situated in the one corner of our hotel room was this giant orange cylinder that housed our toilet, sink, and shower. Artsy? Yes. Interesting? Yes. Creates a space that both is accessable and makes sense? God no. I would like to say that the upside of our hotel was that there was a Burger King next door, but they charged for extra ketchup. EXTRA KETCHUP! Amsterdam is surely a place of great evil.

Sites

The sites to see in Amsterdam can be watered down into 2 different categories: do you want to feel like a shitty person now? or like a shitty person once you sober up? For the first group, you can go see the I Amsterdam sign which moves from place to place because it hates tourists.  Or if you really feel like getting all depressed, you can go to the Anne Frank House, where you can experience what it was like to be a Jew hiding in Nazi occupied Amsterdam in the 1940s. Well, except you are free to leave and smoke some pot whenever you want, and there isn’t a regime in power that wants you dead. But other than the constant fear of being caught and sent to concentration camps, the experience is exactly the same.

I understand all too well how you feel, murdered Jewish girl.

If you want to hate yourself and all the decisions you’ve made in your life later instead of now, then first stop at the Heiniken experience, where you get  bombarded with propaganda, served beer, then forced to navigate through an elaborate gift shop where your lowered inhibitions are being teased by all the merchandise that you don’t really need. If you get through without buying anything, you are given a gold star. I, unfortunately, did not get said gold star.

totally worth it, even if it promotes a beer that I describe as “It’s alright, I guess.”

Let’s say you want to want to have a good time, and to you, having a good time means you’re doing something that is at least frowned upon, if not outright immoral. Well I’ve got three words for you, you sick pervert: Red Light District. You want to get hammered? Red light district. You want to smoke some pot? Red light district. You want to ogle some strippers? Red light district. You want to window shop for prostitutes? Red light district. I swear, that last one is totally a thing. I was not joking.  I’m going to be honest here. Walking through Amsterdam’s red light district was a new experience for me. You could get a contact high just from walking past the open doors to the coffee shops, and anytime you saw pink neon lights, you knew that as soon as you turned you head you were going to be face deep in hooker boob. The unapologetic sleaziness of it all made it just that much more magical. Plus, there are canals all over the place, so it’s also very romantic, just as long as you keep your gaze away from Candie and her fellow sex peddlers.

See, you can window shop for prostitutes. I told you so.

Oh, and a fun fact about Amsterdam: Their symbol is XXX. It is on their flag and their coat of arms. This could be due to the fact that it is in a series of roman numerals on a tower in Amsterdam, or do to the fact that the majority of things that go on there are for adults only.

If you look close, you can see the Roman numerals in the lower left hand corner. I was in a boat when I took this picture. That is why the tower is not center. Keep off of me about it.

Food

OK, so I had Indonesian food and Burger King while I was in Amsterdam, so I’m not going to talk about either of those. But I did have authentic Dutch cheese and ice cream, so let’s talk about those. We went to a cheese farm… a cheesery? A cheese factory? Whatever the fuck you call a place that makes cheese. The cheese there (I do not know what kind it was) had varying levels of deliciousness. My favorite being  the one that had garlic mixed in. It was like licking the butter off of garlic bread, but without you having to question what has become of your life and sense of shame.

As for the Ice Cream? It wasn’t my favorite of the trip, but it was still pretty good. It was more of a banana flavored soft serve than scoops of ice cream, but it was still good.

Alcohol

I’m going to start with talking about their beer, both because it seems like a logical place to start, and because I have some important things to say about it. The Dutch serve beer warm there. It’s not right-out-of-the-unrefridgerated-case warm, but something closer to the temperature of a nursed beer on a warm summer day. Now, in some places they do serve beer to American coldness, but it’s a smaller glass and it costs more. That’s fucked up Holland.

As for other types of alcohol, the thing I want to talk about most is this sign:

If that sign is to be believed, the Dutch are more fucked up than we thought. Wine is not a beverage you chug (unless you are dared to do so), and jagermeister is not, under any circumstances, to be sipped. Jager is what you drink if you want to black out before you start violating every law or goat you come across. It is NOT to be sipped out of stemmed glassware by people who wear scarves.          

People

They Spoke English! This is awesome, except for the fact that you could not be too sure who was a local and who was just another tourist. And the only person that I really talked to was a guy who sold me my brother’s shot glasses. He was wearing a deep V-neck, so I had to assume he was European. It was either that or the possibility that the guy was an American hipster, which is impossible, cause this guy was more muscular than me, and that’s saying something (ladies).

Overall Atmosphere

Just like everywhere else,  The cities of the Netherlands and the rural towns are quite different. I think that should be a given, but I decided to state this just in case any of you weren’t sure.  While Amsterdam is an active city with night life straight from an Evangelist’s nightmares (again, just like every city if you know where to look), the rural villages and coastal towns are quaint and charming. But to be fair to each part of The Netherlands I have been to, I’m going to give the overall atmosphere of each of them separately.

Amsterdam had the overall feel of a dark, mysterious mistress. Possibly a sexy gypsy. Sure, when you see it during the day you see the historical sites and the overall beauty in the architecture. But at night, at night it takes of it’s pretty mask and tells you to talk dirty to it. You roll over each other, being as rough as you damn well please, groans of pleasure escape yours and your temptress’s lips. You bite, you scratch, you lose your humanity and devolve back into a creature that only relies on instinct. And right now your instinct is screaming for you to push onward, to delve into the dark depths, the seedy underbelly, the vagina, if you will. And you fucking do. Because that’s the only real reason you’re there. You want to see things that would normally get you put on some government watch list, and you’re going to watch the shit out of those things, because F.U.C.K.Y.E.A.H!!!!!!!!

What I’m getting at here is that going to Amsterdam is kind of like buying a hooker. Sure, it seems like a good idea at the time, but if you don’t do things right, you’re gonna get stabbed and some rare STD.

So if Amsterdam is like a hot night with a prostitute, then The Dutch Countryside is kind of like a picnic with your girlfriend in the park if your girlfriend isn’t the adventurous type. There is no denying that she isn’t stunning. You both know it. And you just love being around her; she just makes everything seem peaceful. Even the worst moments of the day seem delightful in her company. You don’t care that you’re getting a sunburn or that no one cleans up after their goddamn dog (seriously what the fuck is this place, a kennel?); you don’t even care that despite the amount of romance in the air, you two are still not having sex. You just enjoy her company so much that nothing else in the world seems to matter, and if you could, you would never leave this particular moment, because you know that nothing that has come before it and nothing that is still yet to come will ever make you feel content as you do at this moment right now.

If only she would give you a hand job.

OK here are some more pictures!

Windmill!!!! If I only got to frolic through the tulips, the trip would have been perfect. And yes, I still mean both meanings.

I really have no clue what this building is.

WOO! Photo-op in front of the Anne Frank House everybody! BTW, these next pic are courtesy of Julie. I thank you Jules!

Cheese!

Pfsh, of course a girl would take a picture of shoes.

Getting hammered in the Heineken Brewery

Well, I am.

De vrede (That means “peace” in Dutch!)

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