The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Northern Italy

Overview

If you do not know the history of Italy, you are either way too young to be reading this blog, or you’re a complete moron. But either way, I’m going to tell it to you.  Italy is the place that we desperately tried to deport the Jersey Shore Cast to, The Ringo Star of WWII’s Axis powers, and the place where pizza originated from. This is also the country that is shaped like a boot.

No, that's Louisiana.

For a while, several centuries ago, Italy wasn’t called Italy at all; It was known as the Roman Empire and they did their damnedest to rule the world. They actually came pretty close too. As I mentioned with my blog about London, The Romans made their way up to what is now England and built the city of London. They also had control of the entire Mediterranean Sea as well as all of present day Spain and Portugal, most of France and Germany, and the northern most part of Africa, including the non- horrible death desert part of Egypt.

With time and a little bit of help from the Huns, The Roman Empire fell, which was eventually replaced by the Holy Roman Empire. But just like all sequels that aren’t The Godfather Part 2, this one sucked and was filled with Catholics. Gross.

As Wikipedia tells me, Italy after the Roman empires was separated into several city states, one of which was Milan. It was finally reunited in 1861 during a movement called “The Resurgance.” After that, Italy suffered no more problems and is currently the happiest country on the planet. That is, if you don’t count losing WWI, the fascist dictator Mussolini, almost losing a war against Ethiopia, the mafia presence, the failing Euro, and their former statutory rapist and overall sleaze of a Prime Minister.

… Well, their country is beautiful anyway.

Initial Thoughts

Here were my initial thoughts for Venice:

I was walking with Jon, Paul, Brennen, and CJ, or rather, they were walking around and I was following them. They didn’t invite me along, which I took as an insult, so I decided to invite myself. Right as they were about to cross the Rialto Bridge, I had a crazy thought.

This is going to be awesome. Or awful. I'm not sure.

“Guys!” I said, instantly in the center of their group. They all jumped away from me, each one screaming curse words at me.

“Jesus, Minigan,” Paul gasped, “What the hell were you thinking surprising us like that? You should know by now that when you do that, we assume you’re about to attack us.”

CJ added, “Yeah, and how were you following us? We were keeping an eye out specifically to make sure you weren’t doing just that.”

I honestly knew this much, but I was insulted by the fact that he had the gall to say it to me. I grabbed CJ by the back of his neck and forced his face close to mine. I then whispered into his ear with an inhuman voice, “I dwell in the shadows.”

When I let go, he slowly stepped away from me, his face had gone stony and pale. The look quickly spread to the other three guys. I was actually surprised that that frightened them as much as it did. I think it must have confirmed their fears.

“Anyway,” I said in an unnaturally bright tone, “Do you remember what Andy said about this city not having a sewer system and how it really just goes out under the city until low tide can pull it out to sea?”

That statement seemed to make them only more afraid.

“Well, I was wondered if someone could get superpowers by jumping into the water. Shit like that, no pun intended, would certainly give someone superpowers in comics.”

“Minigan, please-“ Jon started, but didn’t have the strength to finish the sentence.

“No.” I replied, knowing exactly what he was about to ask.

The looks on their faces only became more grim.

“It is out of the question,” I continued, “There is no way I am letting any of you get superpowers while I don’t have any.”

They all sighed with relief and Brennen asked, “So why did you stop us if you were just going to do it?”

“I need you guys to hold all of my stuff. I don’t want to get it wet.”

I handed them my wallet, ipod, cellphone, and my stack of faked passports to Brennen and my shirt to Paul. I then made my way to the top of the bridge, the four of them following close behind, so that I could jump from the highest point. About halfway to the top, I began to hear murmurings from them about whether or not they should let me jump.

Deciding to take the initiative, Paul called out to me, “Minigan, I think this is a really dumb idea.”

“Dumb,” I replied, “or best idea ever?”

CJ chimed in with, “No, just dumb. Really, really dumb. You shouldn’t do this, Minigan.”

“Listen nay sayers,” I snapped, turning around to look at them in their stupid, pessimistic faces, “I’ve worked this out. Even if I don’t get super powers, I will at the very least become a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and I am all for taking that risk.”

I stepped to the summit of the bridge and looked out over the main canal, while completely ignoring their protests. However, I couldn’t ignore the four sets of hands that wrapped themselves around me as I tried to climb onto the edge. They wrestled me to the ground, and said that they would not let me up until I promised not to jump.

“What the hell are you guys doing?” asked a familiar voice from behind us. The five of us looked up to see Kevin, Zack, Shar, and curly haired Lauren standing above us, each with a look of suspicion on their face.

“Nothing,” I said before the guys could say anything, “Just chilling out, having good times, wrestling each other to the ground on the top of a bridge. You know, the usual.” I then said to the guys, “You guys can let me up now. I promise I won’t do anything.”

“Won’t do what?” Kevin asked as the five of us climbed to our feet.

Before I could say mind your own business, CJ said, “This crazy bastard was about to jump off of the bridge.”

“But as I just said,” I snapped, “I am not going to jump, so you can back the fuck up!”

We all stood there in an uncomfortable silence for a few seconds. Each of us looked to each other to see who was going to make the first move; they were all pretty sure that I was still going to jump.

“I promise I am not going to jump,” I repeated, ‘but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to make someone test the water out first!”

Before they could grapple me back down to the ground, I had successfully lifted Kevin into the air and was hobbling towards the ledge. Fearful protests cried out from my group mates, and terrified squeals erupted from the captive that I was holding over my head. His legs kicked, but with no avail, and his arms twisted and squirmed, just trying to grab onto mine. But it was no use, my right hand was lodged inbetween his shoulder blades, making it impossible for him to move his arms back far enough to reach mine. The yells from our trip mates continued as I gave my directions to the now sobbing Kevin. I took my last step to the ledge, the only thing blocking me from the poo-watery depths below was the white marble banister. The group became deathly quiet; they knew there was no way of stopping me from do-

“GELATO!” Brennen screamed, startling everyone, including me. I turned around and faced him, Kevin still squirming and whimpering over my head, before Brennen continued, “Minigan, Gelato! You said you wanted Gelato when we got off of the bus. Let’s go get some now! I’ll even pay for yours, just put Kevin down!”

My heart jumped, “Free gelato? Fuck to the yes!”

I threw Kevin over my head, and started to grab my stuff from everyone’s hands. There were several screams, a crash, and then three spashes in the water behind me.

“C’mon,” I commanded to Brennen as he ran to the ledge, “I gots to get my free gelato!”

And not a single fuck was given that day.

And these were my initial thoughts for Florence:

I climbed over the seats of the bus gracefully. Like a spider to its prey, or like the little girl from “The Ring” climbing out of the TV. Silently (minus the protested yells of my group mates as I used their skulls for support) I moved forward my eyes transfixed upon my prey: the microphone for the loud speaker in Andy’s hand. Andy, who was distracted by Anna’s regular barrage of stupid questions, was completely oblivious to my oncoming ambush. It was only until I was three rows away from him that he noticed me and locked eyes with mine. Wrong move. With an unnatural snarl, I launched myself towards him and the microphone. With an uncharacteristically high pitched scream, Andy threw the microphone at my growing, drooling (I do it for effect) face and dropped to the floor. I caught the microphone with my mouth, and, with a considerable amount of force, slammed into the windshield. Instantly, I was back on my feet and removing the microphone that had lodged itself in my throat.

“Hello everyone,” I said suavely as I leaned against the driver’s seat and pointed and winked at straight haired Lauren. Once she had looked away in disgust, I continued with, “So now we’re on our way to Florence, which is the capitol of Tuscany, but more importantly is the place that the Jersey shore tried to ruin. Because of that last fact, it is safe to say that just about every Italian that you meet there is going to hate us Americans with the same amount of intensity that Lindsay Lohan has against her acting career.  Now, I know that up to this point that this trip has been a bunch of sit-com like antics and good memories, but in Florence is where we will really have to work.”

Kevin snorted at that remark. His face was bruised, his lower lip fat, and his arm in a sling, but he was decidedly not at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As it turns out, when I threw him behind me, he landed on a passing gondola. His weight catapulted the gondolier and his two patrons into the water. Apparently, when they climbed out, they had grown large hardened lumps on their backs as well as a green, leathery hide.  They weren’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles per se, but more like turtle mutants. Man, did I owe CJ, Brennen, Paul, and Jon one big time. I had really dodged a bullet there.

I continued while pretending to not notice the interruption, “We need to reeducate these Italians that Americans aren’t just a bunch of alcohol and drug fueled attention seeking whores. We need to show them that we can be normal, level headed individuals that are not prone to fits of violence and cursing.”

Zack, one of my fellow Ohio Staters, raised his hand and asked, “So what are you going to be doing while we’re trying to win over the Florentines?”

“What are you talking about,” I shot at Zack, “I am heading this overseas relations operation.”

“But you are the antithesis of everything you just said,” Zack replied, “You are prone to fits of both violence and cursing, you are absolutely not level headed, and if you are not an alcohol and drug fueled attention whore, then I do not know who is.”

The entire bus got quiet. I cast a grim scowl towards Zack while, out of sight, I wrapped a length of the microphone’s cord around my hand. Without so much as a tale tell flash of movement, I threw the microphone at Zack’s face with deadly force and accuracy. “When referring to myself,” I said calmly as I whipped the cord back and caught the microphone in my hand, “I prefer the term ‘sex-machine.’” I then asked the rest of the bus, “Does anybody else have any condescending questions for me?”

There was a murmur that was accompanied by a shaking of their heads. Accepting that no one was going to stand up to me, I smiled and threw the microphone back at Zack’s forhead. It made contact in the same spot, which sent him back into his chair.

“Why did you hit him again?!” Shar cried while looking in between me and Zack, who looked very dazed and had a mixture of his blood and my drool run down his face, “He didn’t say anything this time.”

“I know,” I replied to her, “I was just so impressed with hitting him the first time, and I wondered if I could do it again.”

Accommodations

I really don’t remember much about either of the hotels for Venice or Florence except for one detail: they both had bidets! This was one of the major fallout of the hotel in Paris, which I had always assumed was the bidet capitol of the world. Anyway, here is a picture of me enjoying my hotel room’s bidet. [Warning, this will burn your eyes.]:

Fun fact about that picture- the bathroom in the hotel room was too small for me to take a picture of me using a bidet and the picture not just be of my ass and the bowl, so I had to open the bathroom door and build a makeshift tripod out of a step stool and some pillows out in the living area. I then had to balance the camera on pillow, set the timer, go back into the bathroom, and get into the pose with my pants down. I did all of this while my roommate was no more than ten feet away from me, asleep. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I did on the trip. I’m sorry that you had to find out this way, Sammy.

Sites

Well, I already mentioned the Venice’s Rialto Bridge, which is one of the three bridges that cross the grand Canal, so I don’t really feel the need to mention that again other than what I just said here. Then there’s the Piazza San Marco, which has a cool tower and a really nicely decorated building. Both of which I didn’t enter.

In Florence there was a bit more to talk about. There was the Piazza where Michelangelo’s David was kept, as well as a small square that held statues of famous scientists and artists like Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and the Dante.

Put on some pants, perv.

Then there is the Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge of Florence. This bridge has shops built on it that all sell jewelry.

And it isn’t a trip to Florence without stopping at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Here it is in all of its epic wonder:

Food

I officially hate Olive Garden. Fo’ realz. That was my first thought as I tasted my Tagliatelle with clams and zucchini in Venice. And yes, I did have to search for a list of pastas on line until I was able to find the name of mine. There is no way I would’ve gotten close to that spelling. I swore there was a Z in it somewhere. Anyway, that was spectacular. It was savory. It was filling. It had tons of olive oil, clams, and zucchini. If it wasn’t for the schnitzel, this would have been my favorite meal on the trip. Unfortunately, if I ever go back to Venice, I doubt that I would be able to find the place again. It was down an alley way in a city that is one giant maze to begin with. The only way I would be able to find it is if I find this graffiti again:

Go find this for me, people.

This wall was the wall opposite the restaurant we ate at. Hopefully Venice doesn’t paint over it.

That night I ate an entire personal size pizza, which, being American and growing up on Pizza Hut’s Personal Pan pizzas, doesn’t sound like much. But in Italy, a personal size pizza is actually closer to an American medium pizza. Before this trip, I had never eaten an entire small pizza by myself, let alone a fucking medium. Then, I go on this trip and BAM! I end up eating an entire medium sized pizza twice within seven days. That’s right, I didn’t mention it. In Switzerland, a group of us ate at an Italian restaurant and we each got a pizza to ourselves. Then, like, five days later, I’m eating another goddamn pizza. How I was able to do that is very much beyond me. And they call us fat.

In Florence, The Jersey Boys (Jon, Paul, CJ, and Brennen) and I ate pesto ravioli in a nice little restaurant near the Piazza Di Santa Croce. Needless to say, it was delicious, but we barely had enough time to eat.  It was still delicious though. And, in case you were wondering, yes, I did follow them there.

Purchases

This will be the only post that I’m putting this section in, and that is because of this purchase:

sexy

I got this partially out of spontaneity, partially because I wanted a nice Italian suit, partially because I needed a suit, but mostly because I wanted to show up my stupid roommate. See, I had the idea to buy an Italian suit very early in the trip, but I only decided to when Sammy bought a new Swiss watch and wouldn’t shut the hell up about it. So, out of pure spite, I decided that I wasn’t going to leave Italy without buying an Italian suit. The Jersey boys even helped me pick it out.  I guess that means I owe them 2.

People

Look at this puppy!

Dawwww!

This is literally the only local that I want to talk about. Look at how goddamned cute it is! We saw this dog going after pigeons in the Piazza San Marco. The group of us that were waiting for the rest of the group to arrive got to watch the dog play, and it was probably the cutest thing I had seen on the trip up to that point. I decided to try to get a picture, figuring that it would most likely come our blurry, or that I would only end up getting a pic of the dog’s ass. But no. For that one brief moment as I took the picture, the dog paused and looked directly at me, letting me grab a perfect picture of it. This made my day.

Overall Atmosphere

Italy has got to be one of the most laid back places ever. It was weird to try to rush and do anything there, especially eat the pesto ravioli. The waiter even commented on how fast we ate, which I’m pretty sure is the Italian way of insulting us stupid Americans for ignoring their 2 hour long lunch rule.

The Northern Italian cities are majestic in a crazy and confusing kind of way, and the Tuscan country side is picturesque. I love this country.

Pictures:

We watched a glass blowing seminar here.

What's going on here? Wait. I don't want to know.

Brennen and Jon drinking one Euro beers behind a white van before we bought my Italian suit. Keep it classy guys.

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: Switzerland

Julie is the Swiss Miss.

Overview

For a country that calls itself neutral, it’s pretty badass and not one to be fucked with.  Where the country is situated makes them insanely difficult to invade. If you don’t believe me, just ask Napoleon or Napoleon II, Hitler. Switzerland is essentially situated right in the goddamn center of the Alpine mountain range, which are decidedly difficult to pass. Conbine this with the fact that all able bodied men of age must join the military (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_Switzerland), and you get a nation that you probably don’t want to fuck with.

You know an army’s hardcore if they have something this bat-shit crazy named after them.

Initial Thoughts

This time around, I’m not going to give you my initial thoughts, but the thoughts of my fellow traveler, Paul. I acquired these thoughts through my standard methods (see: torture) and I found his thoughts as we entered Switzerland much more entertaining than my own. Here they are:

This is Paul. He is afraid to look me directly in the eyes, and for good reason.

“Okay everyone,” Andy called over the loudspeaker,” We are about to cross the border into Switzerland. We might get stopped by border control, and if we do, they will check our bags and stamp our passports, and then we can continue.”

I, Paul Khoo, fitness badass and the man who was “winning” before that drug powered Charlie Sheen made “winning” a thing, raised my hand and asked, “Andy, why are they going to check our bags? Aren’t we already in the European Union?”

Andy swaggered back, careful not to look Minigan directly in the eyes (he goes crazy when someone does that) and replied with, “Well, the Swiss are part of the European Union, but they set up terms that gave them the right to use their own currency and control what comes in and goes out of their borders. It is nothing to worry about, just as long as you don’t have any drugs with you. Because then you would get arrested, we would have to leave you here, and you would have to find your own way back to the United States. Of course, no one on this bus would be so thoughtless as to try to smuggle drugs across Europe… Well, almost no one.”

We both looked at Minigan who was absentmindedly gnawing on the headrest of the empty chair in front of him while making disturbing growling sounds. Brennen used to sit in that seat, but ever since Minigan started chewing on it, he had been too weirded out to sit there and decided to move one row ahead and sit with Brita, the hot blonde from Texas. Andy gave me a weak smile, which I assumed was his way of wishing me good luck with sitting next to Minigan, regained his composure, and swaggered back up to the front.

Well, shit. I thought, I know I didn’t bring any drugs with me, and I’m pretty sure Jon didn’t either, but I’m pretty sure that Minigan is trying to smuggle drugs across the border. After all, he was practically trick-or-treating for narcotics and hookers in Amsterdam’s red light district. There’s no way even he could do that much drugs in the two days since we left The Netherlands. I should probably ask him about it. But I need to make sure he doesn’t have anything stashed. Sure, I think the guy is a crazy bastard and we’d be better off without him, but he is the only person here that makes me seem level headed, so he needs to get through the checkpoint. The last thing I want to hear said about me is, “Now that Minigan’s gone, Paul seems much more shit-house rat insane.

“Minigan,” I called slowly, as not to alarm him. His teeth had penetrated the red and grey fabric covering the chairs, and he seemed to be attempting to bite his way through the foam padding. He didn’t reply. I called his name again, and this time he stopped gnawing and looked my direction, his mouth still firmly attached to the seat.

“Wub boo bah bee?” he asked… it think. I stared at him blankly (it’s OK to look him in the eyes if you address him first) for a few seconds before he finally released the head rest from his vice like jaws and asked, “What do you need?”

“I was just wondering how much drugs we would need to have in our luggage for border control to detect it,” I said while making myself sound nervous, “I mean you don’t think that I could get in trouble if I have just a small bit of weed on my clothes from Amsterdam, do you?”

“Nah,” Minigan replied, his breath smelling strongly of sour cream and onion Pringles and public transit upholstery, “You’d need to have more than just a trace amount on you for the drug dogs to notice. Trust me.”

“So you’re not worried?”

“Nope,” he said, his attention back to the shredded seat in front of him, “If I was going to try and smuggle drugs in a suitcase, I wouldn’t be so stupid to keep it in my suitcase. I would probably put them in other people’s bags, as to divert suspicion away from myself.”

Oh shit. Would he plant his stash on me?

As if he knew what I was thinking, Minigan continued, “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t put the stuff in your bag, and I would definitely put drugs in you bag and then tell you my plan. Besides, I would only stash drugs on someone whom I don’t like.” He gave cast a venomous look towards Natalie, and then with an animalistic snarl, he dove face first back into the headrest in front of him, and began to tug at the foam padding with his teeth. His lips had wrapped themselves over the edges of the loosened foam, making him look like he had lumpy growths on his gums.  With a swift and strong tug, Minigan managed to tear a rather large chunk of foam from the seat , leaving a sizeable hole in its place.

Natalie (in the red) had just cut April (in the grey) in line. What a bitch. Also, April was clearly affronted.

“Why are you doing that anyway?” I asked once he spit the slimy ball of foam into his lap.

“What, this?” he asked casually as if he gets asked that question all the time, “You’ll see.”

He bent over and pulled several small bags of marijuana out of a compartment in his book bag.  He stuck the bags into the newly made pocket in the head rest and returned the soaked foam to its original place. He then pulled from his book bag a sewing kit that he had borrowed from April as we left Heidelberg, and began to sew the seat back together. When he was finished,  the tear along the top of the head rest was hardly noticeable.

“I ate an entire can of sourcream and onion Pringles before I began to bite the head rest,” he said to me rather randomly, “The smell from those Pringles should cover up the smell of the drugs. And as long as no one rats me out,” he continued, while casting a highly suspicious look in my direction, “ I should be able to get these drugs through whatever checkpoint we are stopped at.”

 This dude is fucking insane, I thought to myself as Minigan turned back to the head rest to admire his handy work, I really need to stop hanging out people like him. It is only going to get me arrested or murdered one day.

“But people like me make things so much fun,” he said to me in a bright tone. And before I could react to what he just said with a thought, he murmered, “And yes, I can read minds. Keep it on the D.L.”

___________

Why did I have to torture Paul if I can read minds, you ask? Because sometimes getting things the old fashioned way is more fun.

Accommodations

We stayed at the Globe Hotel in Luzern, Switzerland. There were only two downsides to this hotel that I can think of. #1. We had no air conditioning in our room, but a fan. #2. Everyone else had their sink in their living space while Sammy and I only had ours in our bathroom. What a jip. Actually, the no air conditioning thing turned in our favor after the first night when a large group of us (including Sammy, Paul, and I) ran across town to our hotel in the middle of the pouring rain. When Sammy and I got back to our room, we aimed our fan at our wet clothes and let them dry overnight. So other than those two setbacks, the hotel was pretty nice. It was (as I just mentioned) within walking distance to the center of Luzern, and literally across the street from the lake. Our room was pretty big and had a nice view of the courtyard. Also, we could climb out the window and party on the roof. We didn’t, but it was an option.

This is the group of us who ran to the hotel in the rain. We found Andy and gave him a wet group hug so that he wouldn't feel left out.

Sites

According to our tour guide, Andy, There are only 2 sites to see in all of Switzerland: Mount Pilatus and The Rhine Falls. The Rhine Falls was the first site on our tour through Switzerland. It was an impressive waterfall, don’t get me wrong, but it cannot compare to the magnitude, majesty, and several other words that begin with M of Niagara Falls (Go America and, to a lesser extent, Canada!). But none the less, the Rhine Falls were pretty cool. It was a nice place to stop for a minute and stretch your legs and it’s impressive to see the power of that much water tumbling over rocks. Also, if you’re in to this kind of thing, you can take a boat ride to the falls and walk up an island right in the middle of the goddamn falls. That’s pretty badass.

No one wanted to be in the picture with me. Pfsh, haters.

While we were there, I tried to convince Sammy to go over the falls in a barrel, but we ran out of time, and he didn’t want to because not enough chicks would be watching.

Mt. Pilatus was much cooler than the Rheinfalls, partially because of the hiking opportunities and the amazing views, but mostly because if you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all.

Awesome! Proof that Gravity exists! Can we go now?

Mt. Pilatus was amazing because it was 7,000 feet high, and towered over Luzern like a Swiss Giant. You get to the top by an enclosed ski lift and then by hanging tram car. Once at the top, you can go hiking one of the several trails, eat in their cafeteria, or take your luggage to your room. Yes, there’s a hotel on the top of this mountain. Why AESU didn’t book that for us is beyond me, but they will be hearing from me about it via a brick with a note attached being thrown through one of their windows. The trails on the top of the mountain ranged from easy to difficult, or, to my low altitude lovin’ lungs, “Dear God, can we rest for, like one damn second? Does anyone have any water?” The hike to the peak was worth it though, because once the clouds cleared, you could see for miles. I absolutely decided that I am going to go back to Luzern just to go back to the peak of Mt. Pilatus and jump off it while wearing one of those wing suits.

See that building way at the top of the slope? Yeah, that isn't even a third of the way up.

Both April and Sammy were uncomfortable in this picture. Sammy because he's afraid of heights, and April because she's sitting next to Sammy.

To the summit, or our deaths. It's gotta be one of those two.

I reached the peak of Pilatus... That sounds like that could be a good name for a hiking themed porno.

Food

One of the nights in Switzerland we traveled into the Swiss Countryside for a Swiss folklore dinner.  There, our first course was fondue, which made me incredibly happy, not because I am a huge fan of fondue that isn’t chocolate, but because I had forgotten that fondue was Swiss to begin with. As for next few courses, I don’t remember them all too well, so let’s hope Julie got pictures of them.

She did!

Let’s see. Well we definitely had some vegetables. I’m guessing that the stuff covered in gravy is pork… or maybe chicken. And that stuff in the back I think was shredded potatoes. Hmm, that actually sounds pretty good. I wish I could remember eating it. And I wasn’t even drunk at this meal, it’s just that so much happened at the Swiss folklore dinner that the meal must have been pushed from my memory…

What I’m getting at is that it wasn’t all that memorable. Just sayin’.

Then there is Swiss chocolate which was delicious. I bought a 8 pack of candy bars which I proceeded to share with my fellow travelers. Of course I spiked the candy bars with amphetamines. Pfsh, what a stupid question that I assumed you asked.

Alcohol

Honestly, I do not remember much about Swiss alcohol. I might have had some of their beer, but I’m not sure. Euro friends, help me out on this one.

People

As I mentioned above, during our second night in Switzerland we had a Swiss folklore dinner. This was where we mingled with the Swiss people. And seeing as though most of my group was pretty drunk and most of the people we met were starting their march through puberty, things got a little weird. Paul snorted some tobacco with some of the Swiss boys, Lauren, Julie, and Anna got hit on by those same Swiss boys and then almost killed said boys with whips, Brennen and CJ almost killed their fellow Americans with the whips, and Lea really pissed off my roommate by being  drunk and unintentionally cock blocking him. That’s not even mentioning the fact that we Ohio State alumni saw to it that everyone from UCLA absolutely hated us and we saw to it that we kept the OSU- Michigan rivalry alive via heckling the lone Michigan supporter from the other group. It’s funny that it took us this long to finally show Europeans how drunk and annoying Americans can really be.

Weird Al was mysteriously absent

Attempted murder has never looked so pretty.

I honestly thought I was going to die when Brennen got the whip.

Cj was hammered at this point in the night.

Overall Atmosphere

With it being the county with the highest rate of living in Europe, you just know that Switzerland is going to be one of the more expensive countries on the trip and also one of the most business like. While many of the other countries we had played up their history, The Swiss seemed more focused on business. Luzern did keep most the historical buildings, but the city still felt like something that belonged in the 21st century.

However, my body had a negative physical reaction to something in Switzerland. I have no clue what caused it, but I can venture to guess that it was the Swiss’s damn neutrality that caused the blotches on my skin.

Gross Switzerland, gross.

OK- Pictures

This is Anna eating a Clif bar at the edge of a cliff.

This bird followed us to the top of the mountain. I'm pretty sure it wanted us dead so that it could feast on our flesh.

There it is again!

Group pic sans non Ohio people

If you would like to read a more accurate description of my exploits in Europe, check out April’s blog.

Peace

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Belgium

a

God Cj, a gun is not the same thing as a phone. This is why I never bring you hunting with me.

Overview

Brussels, apparently, was built one the sick fetish of little boys peeing. Let me explain. Legend has it that invaders were trying to set fire to Brussels because raping and pilliaging, while good for the invading force’s economy and the army’s moral, is still a lot of work. They opted instead (I assume under influence of a leader who had a disturbing fascination with lighting things on fire) to burn the whole city down. So they lit a fire and then fled, knowing that the people of Belgium were way too stupid to figure out how stop the magic hot light-wind. Luckily, a small boy really had to take a piss at the time, and thought, “Hey, why not?” He then proceeded to play fireman all over the fire.  The town was saved and, from the sounds of it, the invaders turned around and went home because they were the worst invaders ever- even worse than the Spanish. The people of Brussels then built a fountain in the boy’s honor- the fountain being a naked boy peeing into a basin.  The modern day people of Brussels dress the boy up in colorful clothing to signify an important holiday. Think of that next time you decorate your house for Fourth of July:  the only way you’re going to beat Belgium is if you dress a pissing child up in goofy clothes. The game is on, America, the game is on.

               

I won't be the first to say this, and I won't be the last: Europeans are weird.

Initial Thoughts

I do believe my first thought was, “What the fuck is that thing?” as I looked at the Atonium Building. Was it the real Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory? Or maybe Dr. Evil’s latest hideout? I had no clue. It took me stumblingupon a series of images of the world’s landmarks to actually find out its name. Although, I think a better story is that that is the hideout of superhero The Atom. Yeah, that is a much cooler idea. Let’s just say it’s that one.

I don't think Dr. Evil would hide in a place so gaudy.

Accommodations

We only stopped in Brussels for about an hour or so, so I didn’t have “accommodations”. So, to be honest, the accommodations were pretty awful.  Where we stayed there were no bathrooms, no beds, not even a goddamn roof. A one person tent is more luxurious than where we stayed in Brussels.  I hope you’re happy Belgium, you’ve incurred the wrath of the best and funniest blogger on the internet according to everyone the blogger is willing to talk to.

Food

Well, going in to Belgium, I knew I had to at least have waffles and chocolate. Belgium is like the Mecca of sweets. But, apparently, Brussels is also famous for mussels. Yeah, I didn’t know that either. I also didn’t know (what with me not being a huge fan of seafood) that mussels are actually really damn good.  Only slightly fishy, the mussels had a delicious savory taste to them with just a hint of celery (They were cooked along side some celery; they don’t just taste like that for no reason). The mussels also came with French fries because… I don’t fucking know why actually. We’re talking about Flems (what people from Belgium are called) here. What they call themselves is enough evidence to prove that they just make shit up as they go.

This is a douchey artistic photo I took of the mussels.

Anyway, after the mussels, we had very little time left in Brussels, so I really had to hussle to get some waffles.  I did, but I only got the plain one (the one with just chocolate, how boring).  The long and short of it was that it was good. I didn’t get a picture, but here is a picture of the waffle that one girl in my group, Julie, had. Enjoy:

How do you eat something like this? Do you just pour it into your mouth? As an American glutton, that is what my whole body is telling me to do.

Alcohol

For those of you who don’t know (This should be just about everyone who reads this) there is a specific type of alcohol that is associated with Brussels: cherry beer. For everyone (again-just about all of you)  who hasn’t tried it to get an idea of what it would taste like, take a cherry four loko, make it not taste like fermented ass,  but instead like an alcoholic cherry soda. Yes, it was good.

I don't always drink-hic- beer, but when I do- hic- I drink this cherry shit. It's real-hic- real-hic- really fucking good. YOU DON'T KNOW ME!!!!

People

Well, I didn’t get to speak to a lot of them because English is not their first language, and I don’t speak their crazy loogie language (it’s called Flemish… really). Therefore, the native person I talked to the most was the woman who served me my mussels.  She seemed to be mildly pushy, but overall really nice, so I’m going to assume that she only seemed pushy since she suddenly had to deal with 30 some odd American that demanded to eat all her shellfish like a bastardized version of the Walrus and the Carpenter. My observations of the rest of the Flemish people are that they are rather relaxed and easygoing people, much like the rest of Europe (other than the English, who are essentially Americans with cute accents). Another thing I noticed about the Flems: they love open markets in public squares. Within the short time I was there, I saw a gardening market set up in the Grand Place, and there was an art market set up right across the street from where we ate lunch.

Overall Atmosphere

In all honesty, Brussels had a very eclectic feel to it. It had the historical sections like London, the laid back feel (minus the constant cloud of cigarette smoke) of Paris, and the tight and winding side roads of  other European cities like Rome and Florence (I’ll be getting to those soon). It also had the deserted feel of a city in the middle of a zombie epidemic. I mean that in the most complementary way possible. But that still never creeped me out, so I guess that says just as much about me as it does Brussels.

Here are some extra pictures if you’re wondering what Brussels looks like:

OK, well that’s all I have for now. for next time, I think I’m not going to update on my travels (The next one will be of The Netherlands), but instead talk shit on some beloved pop culture icons, up to and including Harry Potter and the most interesting man alive from those Dos Equis commercials, so stay tuned!

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: France

Well, this is embarassing. I’ve been home for over a month, and I am just now getting my second post up. Damn. But in my own defense, I have been busy rewriting my last 3 Awesomesquad! Assemble! blogs into a short story and also writing a letter of “go fuck yourself” to a former friend, so I’ve been a tad bit busy lately. I apologize. But enough of that gay stuff, here is my latest blog post!

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: France

Ooh la la!

Overview

The area that people know of as “France” was originally settled by Romans during the expansion of the Roman Empire as a place where they could be free to eat stinky cheese, be snooty, and surrender to the Germans all they want. It is important to note that Germany was not an actual country until around 1814, so they had a good millennium or so of a head start. During that time, they were pretty badass: They built a massive palace and garden for the royal family at Versailles, they fought in all kinds of wars with England and Spain, they conquered most of the new world (which they would later sell to us, which was smart of them, because we we’re just going to take it from them anyway), and towards the end of 18th century, the cut off a fuck ton of heads in the name of democracy and tore down a prison with their bare hands. However, in the 100 Years’ War, they were sucking so hard that they needed a 19 year old girl to whip their asses into shape.  Today, the French are known around the world as “Those stuck up bastards with the weird hats and crepes.” To me, they appear to be the cultural enemy of the good ole U.S.OF.A. in that they are liberal, (The believe in that weird voodoo called “evolution” and they think gays deserve rights) while still maintaining a strong sense of nationalism. Hey, ever wonder why they think of themselves as too good for English? Well that’s because they think that if you’re in their country, you should know their language. Does that sound familiar, America?

Initial Thoughts

My first steps in France were not in Paris, but on the coast. We took a ferry from Dover across the English Channel. When my group stepped off of the ferry, we were met with a desolate wasteland. There was nothing but empty streets, empty parking lots, and empty buildings everywhere.  Due to my training in this field, I instantly assumed that a zombie outbreak occurred. In a flash, I had found a steel pipe and was proceeding to swing it frantically at anyone who got too close. Well, a few wings of that pipe and a couple of tranquilizer darts later, I was drooling on the bus and on my way to gay Paris. (On an unrelated note, “gay Paris” sounds much more offensive when it is not spoken with the French accent.)

Accommodations

In all honesty, the accommodations were pretty disappointing. I mean, our hotel wasn’t bad: It had a pretty decent breakfast,  it had a nice courtyard that we could sit (and get trashed) in, and even though the rooms weren’t as nice as the 5 star hotel in London, they weren’t half bad. But, and this is a huge but. I mean, like a Oprah Winfrey sized “but”. BUT when we went to the Palace of Versailles they would not let me sleep on any of the beds. NOT ONE! I even told them that it was OK since I am American and that they owed us since we saved their cheese eating asses in both World Wars, but they still wouldn’t let me. I was completely offended. I mean, sure I was jumping on the bed with my shoes on when they caught me, and yes, I do have a tendency to piss on things to mark my territory, but it was still my God given Amurican right to sleep in whatever palace I pee on. They’re just lucky I didn’t spit in their mouths and make them thank me for showing them what freedom tastes like.

Food

Well, In Paris I mostly ate brie and baguettes, so I have to say they don’t have a huge selection of food. I did have some crème brulee, which was much better than I expected.  I didn’t get to try escargot, but I did try it last time I was in Paris, and I have to say, once you get past the thought of “Hey, I’m eating snails right now,” they’re actually pretty good too. Those are the only 4 foods that French people eat. Talk to my Eurofriends to find out how the fast food chain, QuickBurger, is. I heard it was amazing.

Alcohol

Three words and one 1 hyphen: Cheap-ass wine. Seriously, you can buy a good bottle of red wine for about €4 (about $6.50). I shit thee not. But you need to be careful when buying wine; my roommate picked out wasn’t wine but grape juice. The people I was drinking with only noticed how smooth and good tasting it was. I was the one who thought, “Hey, something isn’t right here.” I looked at the bottle and wouldn’t you know it, it has “sans alchool” right on the bottle.

Needless to say, we were a stupid, stupid group of college graduates.

People

This one is a bit of a mixed bag. Of course, going in, you are just going to assume that every Frenchie that you meet is going to be a pretentious, scarf wearing cock. To my surprise, I did not see any of these French people. I did however watch as what I assume was a Parisian child spit off of a bridge and into a crowd of Japanese tourists on my Seine River boat cruise. I assume the child was French because he was, like, 10 and all alone in Paris, which he seemed to be comfortable with. Also, who doesn’t love to spit on tourists (when you’re not one of them.) Then, there was this one girl at a club in the redlight district that totally snubbed me when I tried to dance with her. In her defense, I didn’t speak any French other than what Andy (my tour guide) taught us, she didn’t speak any English, and I did try to start a conversation with her twice. Looking back, I was mad creepy to that girl.

I did meet a few nice people in Paris, but mostly because I was buying something from them.  A man in the subway station sold me a ticket for the train for only a Euro  ($1.50) when they were actually more than that. And he was nice enough to neither scam me, or demand fellatio from me.  that’s right, I bought something from some random guy in the subway station and not only did the ticket work (I went through the wrong entrance, but it still worked), but I was also not mouth raped. We Americans could learn so much from these French philanthropists… these Phrenchanthropists. Also, when some of my group and I were wandering  through the streets of Paris, scrounging for food, the man at the restaurant that we stopped at was incredibly friendly (even nicer than the nicest I have been treated by American fast food employees) despite the fact that I was blatantly attacking his native language with my uncivilized tongue.

Overall Atmosphere

Romantic. At least it looked that way. I bet if I was in love and I was there, I would be caught up in the beauty of everything, but since I wasn’t in love when I was there, I was just caught up in the Architecture, the history, and the locations of famous pop culture scenes. You know, like Inception:

This is the cafe from Inception. Yes, I was disappointed too.

And The Da Vinci Code:

No one was murdered there when I was there. What a jip.

And, well, that is all that I can think of right now.

I know of a certain lazy eyed hunch back who feels left out and forgotten.

But all that aside, Paris and Versailles is beautiful. And there’s so much to do that you need much longer than what I had (three days) to see everything. I am absolutely going back, if only to see their statue of liberty. I didn’t get to see it up close and , needless to say, that pissed me off so bad that I threw a mime into the river.

The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: London

Before I get started with this, I would like to point out that since I had limited access to wifi on the trip, and mostly because I was lazy, I did not get many of these posts finished, so it will take me a while to actually get these online. Deal with it.

Why is it always gloomy in that place? It's so depressing.

Overview
Ok, I’m not going to talk to you about the history all that much because history is booooooooooring. But I will say this. It was founded by the Romans back in the… um… a really fucking long time ago. Where they built is now known as the City of London (This area is mostly the financial district). If I just confused you, then you are a rational person. See, the City of London is only a small section of the larger London area. London is divided into separate cities. The City of London is one, Westminster is another, Soho is a third Notting Hill is another, but who gives a fuck about that place. All of this will be important later, so take notes.
London’s current population is 7.5 million, making it the world’s most populated city.

Initial Thoughts
Once I was out of the airport, all I could think about is, “Wow, this looks just like America. This is very disappointing. The trees look the same, the buildings look the same, the bad areas look the same. Even the people look the same, even if it is in that creepy, almost human way: like a mannequin or a corpse that has been posed ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ style and photographed.”

Accommodations
We stayed at the Tower Mint Hotel, which was located in The City of London and essentially right across the street from the Tower of London. Which, by the way, is not a tower at all. Yeah, total rip-off. Anyway, Our Hotel was ultra-modern, sleek and probably really expensive. The bar at the top of it sure as hell was. Each of our rooms had free wifi AND an iMac. The best part of the room, though, was that it was facing an area where they filmed part of one of the Harry Potter movies. That’s right, I was within spitting distance of Diagon Alley and I was pretty damn happy about that.

The view from my hotel on the first night. I know it's blurry; my camera sucks at taking night pictures.

Food
Tea and Crumpets? Fish and Chips? What in the Hell do the British eat? Well, I did eat fish and chips. It was ok, but they served it with mashed peas, or what we normal people (Americans) call it: baby food. Simply said, I was not a fan of much of any of it. The Indian food, on the other hand, was fucking delicious. I also had Italian food and Japanese food, because apparently, fuck British food. Here is the video of the Japanese restaurant. I suggest you watch it.

Alcohol
The Beer. Oh my God, the beer. First of all, the alcohol percentage of some British beers is 8%. Secondly, they taste better than American beers. And thirdly, the beer, despite the alcohol percentage, was still only 3-4 British Pounds. That’s like 5-6 American Dollars. Hells yeah!

People
Awwwwwwww, their accents are adorable! I just want to hug ‘em and hug ‘em and hug’em! On another note, they all have a crazy infatuation with an old woman. Their obsession borders on unhealthy. I did happen to get a picture of here though.

Right there in the back window of the moving car. She is wearing blue. Why do people give such a damn about this old woman?

Overall Atmosphere
In all honesty, I felt at home in London. The place is relatively clean (the telephone booth I got a picture in had pee on the floor. Yes, I still did get that picture taken.), and the tube system is incredibly easy to use. It didn’t hurt that I spoke the same language as the locals, making it a whole lot easier to mingle with them. My only issue was that I never did see any trickster gypsies trying to sell trailers. You lied to me, Jason Statham, you lied to me.

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