Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Long Overdue Reflection on My Trip To Europe

Hello folks, it's been a minute. I've been doing absolutely nothing, but it was time consuming. I spent the last half of October (a fortnight) in Europe, county-hopping. This is a pretty big deal, given my well documented fear of flying. I went to my doctor (a.k.a. the world's most boring doctor) and asked for some anti-anxiety pills. She prescribed me Ativan (I think) and sent me on my way. That was step number one.

The second step was planning the trip, which consisted of going to Rome, Florence, Venice, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, and finally London. After arriving in Rome, it would take a myriad of trains and one flight internal within Europe to see everything I needed to see as a cultural tourist. I even got to take a Eurostar train through the Chunnel. The fuckin' Chunnel, Africans!

I got back in one piece, but truthfully, I never really analyzed the trip as I was taking it. No deep thoughts, no insights, just everything at face value. It wasn't until I returned that I looked back and thought "Hey, wait a minute, that guy was trying to seduce my wife!" or some other shit like that. With that being said, here's what I remember in short, bite sized, millennium attention span appropriate blurbs.

Man, fuck Rome. Yeah, I said it. And Rome's mama.
The Trevi Fountain is dope. Gelato, outstanding. My fat, stereotypical American ass ate pizza most of the time and it was the best pizza ever! We stayed for three days in two different places, a dope hotel first, then a dope bed and breakfast. With all this being said, why fuck Rome? The people. They are the rudest I encountered on the Continent and I WENT TO PARIS!!! And it's a lot of old with not enough new mixed in. It's a world city based on tradition rather that it's real place in the current world in my humble opinion. So, you can keep it, you crazy romantics (literally!).
After 3 days, we took a hi-speed train to Florence.

Man, Florence is all that. The DiMedici's had it right holding down Florence. It's old as shit and as beautiful as fuck. When I pictured Italy, Florence is the city of which I was thinking. Quality architecture, The Uffizi Museum, THE David. Pure dopeness. The next time I go to Italy, I can skip Rome and take my ass directly to Florence. We were only here for about 4 hours before we hopped the train again to get to Venice.

Overrated like an Ivy League degree. Venice is for lovers? I'm a lover. It's not for me. Hypothesis flawed. My lover? She didn't like it either. Fucking canals are gorgeous. Endless dead ends into canals when you're walking are not cool. That plaza where all the movies are shot in Venice is very nice (my research tells me it's Piazza San Marco or St. Mark's Square), and well worth the 400 photos I took there. I felt like Jason Bourne, if he were a fat, balding loser and at the tail end of his life.

We flew to Brussels after staying overnight in Venice. We flew on Ryanair. Some words of advice: avoid Ryanair. One hour of being stuck on the tarmac, after which we took off and the flight attendants tried to sell: lottery tickets, perfume, scarfs, other various sundry items. H-O-O-D-S-H-I-T. It was a cheap and relatively quick way to get from southern Europe to the north, but man oh man, Ryanair is worse than Spirit and I fucking hate Spirit with a red hot burning passion.
I spent about 3.5 hours total in Brussels. I didn't really see that much shit, except a waffle sales woman and a frites sales man. That's all I needed. I didn't see Manneken Pis, apparently the most famous piece of art in Belgium, but I saw many, many replicas, mostly made of chocolate.

Seriously, they love this little pissin' bastard.

The next stop was the train station and off to our next 3 day destination...

What a magnificent city! What a standard they have set as a civilized nation. What a magnificent group of good, kind, friendly people. How the fuck did they get to this from being a nation-raping, diamond stealing, Shell Oil owning, apartheid supporting, Afrikkaner spawning, Congo-colonizing, West Michigan living sons of bitches? I don't know, but I can tell you I didn't think of their colonial chicanery once while I was there. And seriously began to think about how I could live there for good at some point in my life. It was that magnificent. I even bought new shoes in Amsterdam (for the record, I wear a size 47 EUR).

I know I only got a slice of life. Hell, I didn't even smoke weed or go into a sex show. I did all the great shit associated with being in Holland, like take pictures of windmills and go to the Van Gogh Museum without the sinny stuff and it was still by far the best leg of the trip. I even got to drop laundry off, pay a few Euros and come back a couple of hours later to clean drawers. They are at once completely organized and completely laid back. God bless the Dutch (does not apply to the ones in West Michigan).

After 3 days, I was sad to leave. We had to board a regular train back to Brussels to catch a hi-speed train going to Paris. Only the regular train had technical issues and we got delayed over an hour, missing our connecting train. When we got there, the woman at the ticket counter told us not to worry, to just hop on the next hi-speed train to Paris. When we tried to board, the conductor told us to fuck off, we'd missed our train, tough luck. We protested, he again said fuck off. We got on the next hi-speed train anyway, with no seats. TAD sat near the luggage and I stood. When the on-board conductor checked our ticket, he just chuckled and we were fine. Fuck that other conductor.

Wow! Paris! The City of Lights! And dirt. Plus crepes.
We stayed in an area I'd like to call the "Brooklyn" of Paris. It's a little gritty, kinda up and coming in some spots, a few hipsters here and there, but mostly where working people live. It was one of the best "real city" situations we'd been in thus far. We essentially dropped off our heavy ass backpacks and roamed into the streets to find food. Luckily, they tried to make us feel right at home at the first restaurant we went to.

All in all, it turned out that the reputation for Parisian rudeness did not bear out in my short stay. It was all good. They were less rude than both the Romans and the Londoners. In fact, Parisians seemed to be working hard to counter that reputation by being very helpful in most instances that we had to interact. Maybe it's because it looked like I might strike them at any moment, but still, the trip to Paris was good and nobody got hurt. I'd like to go back someday.

After 3 days, we were off to Jolly Old England. Yay, Chunnel!

London is a great city. Free fucking museums! It's the perfect nerd town. Everything's in English! Bonus! The people aren't particularly kind, and they are on a whole some of the most unattractive people I've ever seen, but they have a damn good grasp on mixing the modern with the historic. And I'm in love with their subway branding.

It's the kind of place I could see myself living if it weren't for the stifling class system and the fear of having hideously ugly grandchildren.

Me and TAD were at Wicked and towards the end, somebody fainted or had some sort of episode. One of the ushers yelled "Is there a doctor in the house?" and a lady hopped up and sprinted towards the front to help. I'd never seen that before. The person got the help he or she needed and I paid a lot of money to not really see the end of that fucking play. The show went on, but me and my fucking compassion for other humans made me miss some key points that tied up the ending.

There was a lot of off and on rain, of course. And nobody really has better fish and chips than you or I have already had here in the States, but London was not bloody bad.

So that was my anniversary trip.


Nexgrl said...

Magnificent recap in rare Zed fashion. You got a change of scenery and a break from work.

The Brown Blogger said...


onefromphilly said...

Sounds like you had a blast! :-)
At least now you know where you want to return, and where you never need to go again. The blessing of power traveling.

Butterfly Jones said...

That's so cool. You're right about Londoners being ugly and rude (I am the sole exception)I hate it here. I spent seven weeks in LA last year and I am homesick! It's been more than a minute but glad to hear you are Mr Married now!