Now that I’m back, I feel a greater anxiety to head back to Europe. Sure, we’ve encountered more than a fair share of racist mofos but, where in this world do you not pass by an ignorant bastard one time or another? Other than Antarctica that is…
But let’s focus on the juicy details of our 3 week suitcasing trip to Europe. Remember during spring break two years ago when I literally just packed everything into ONE regular-sized North Face schoolbag for a two-week backpacking trip? I wish I had done that again. Lugging around a suitcase, no matter how small, is the biggest pain in the ass. And I have quite a big one (ass, not suitcase) so you can imagine just how annoying a suitcase must be to create such an impressionable pain.
To start off, I will now type out a brief list of the most frequently used vocab on this trip:
2. shit (as in gotta take one)
Four girls, embracing the beauty of the extensive English vocabulary. Use all four words in one sentence and, voila! You’re on your way to great verbal etiquette.
We took a one day breather before heading off to Bordeaux.
View of Buckingham Palace from St. James’s Park
We walked around Bloomsbury, around Russell Square and Gower street where I used to live. As we hesitated outside of 6 Bedford Square (the NYU in London building), we wondered, Hmmm…can we use the computers?? We managed to get Christina (the only one of the three of us who hadn’t studied abroad) to go inside and ask the guard if we can. Jenn and I just nervously laughed at each other outside the entrance in anticipation…and guess what? The guard kinda remembered us, even after 2 years. Then again, I bet all Asians look the same but, whatever the circumstance, we were able to go inside. What luck! We save 2 pounds worth of internet time. Score! (Hey, that’s equivalent to $4 or 6 Onken mousse).
We went to bed at like 8pm, so that we could wake up at 2am, catch the 3am Thameslink to London Luton airport, to catch a 6am flight to Paris CDG…then take a metro ride to the Paris Montparnasse station to catch a 3 hour train ride to Bordeaux. This all looked much simpler during the planning phase.
Before boarding the Thameslink, we bumped into a bunch of black guys who work at the Kings Cross station, graveyard shift. They ni hao’ed their asses off, which pissed us off a great deal. I yelled out JAMBO! (the exclamation for the clicking noise in African tribal language) but, I was already down a flight of stairs when I yelled it out and didn’t think they heard it. Next time, I gotta do some quicker responses.
Bordeaux, France (which Jenn pronounced as “boudoir”)
I’ll readily admit that we came here thinking it was wine country, only to realize that we had to venture outside of the city to get into that grapey territory. Did we feel dumb? No better way to put it than…yes. We hit up a wine shop instead and pretended we were getting our desired wine experience even though this was easily something we could do in any city, in any country.
An intense water fountain sculpture in Place des Quinconces, one of the largest city squares in Europe.
Soo green and beautiful. I wish my dad could’ve been there. He loves gardening, while my mom loves sitting on the couch, watching sports and drinking beer. There’s no question as to who the man of my family is: my 5′ tall mom.
I wish my pictures at least remotely resembled Monet’s paintings. But alas, my point-and-shoot capabilities and 3.2 megapixels can only do so much good.
Arc de Triomphe
We finally met up with Liz at Gare du Nord.
Guys, remember during the spring break trip two years ago…when we were too cheap to pay 3-5 euros for bedsheets at that dirty Paris hostel? And we wondered why we were too cheap and stingy to even protect ourselves from diseased mattresses?
Well, I realized just how badly stingy we were deep inside…when Jenn came up with the bright idea of squeezing through the metro turnstiles just so we could save money and avoid buying subway tickets. Then one night, we were caught…and fined 25 euros. The fine was originally 35 euros…until Jenn got angry enough for the ticket people to lower it to 25 euros.
I was impressed with Jenn…until I remembered that time in Barcelona when we were incorrectly charged at that Indian-owned paella place. We tried to argue the price of that pitcher of coke down to its true price (from like 9 euros to 4 euros)…and Jenn said to the manager, “Can you just lower it to 8 euros?” We were like “NOO JENN!! The waiter told us 4 euros before!” But I digress…a little too much.
We grew a little bored at the Louvre. So here we are, being replicas of a replica.
Passing Notre Dame on a river boat cruise
Stupid Raileurope put us down as “males” on our overnight train tickets from Paris to Milan. Luckily, Jenn, Liz and I were put into the same sleeper car. On the other hand, Christina was put into a sleeper car with 2 bulky men with smell and sound issues (snoring, not farting). As the bottom bunk, I shared my bed with Christina…only to wake up blanket-less while Christina was burrito wrapped in warmth.
The duomo in its scaffolding glory
Florence (or, Firenze)
Our favorite city. Chianti wine is soo good.
At one of the restaurants, an Indian waiter failed to woo Liz, who told him her name was Veronica.
Indian waiter: “Any desserts Veronica? Would you like some chocolate…like me?”
I forgot his exact wording…but it’s all the same in its ridiculousness.
Pisa (seventh stop…and also eighth stop)
Let’s not discuss why I wrote “and also eighth stop.” All you need to know is that I never want to see Pisa EVER AGAIN!
I tried to be angularly artistic and it came out mediocre. Boohoo.
We arrived at the Firenze Campo di Marte station about 2 hours prior to departing to Vienna. Then as it neared 1 hour prior to departure, something inside my mind brought up the idea of looking at my train ticket again…and when I did, I was in for a shocker. I was supposed to be leaving from the Santa Maria Novella train station instead (not the Campo station). Stupid Raileurope screwed up my ticket again. The rest of the girls were leaving from Campo. Luckily, I was able to buy another ticket for the train I was SUPPOSED to take.
In addition to that, Raileurope gave me a seat instead of a sleeper car (this was another overnight train)…and so, I had to sleep overnight in a seat. You can imagine the number of yoga positions I had to sleep in. Good thing I’m pretty flexible.
On a separate train ride from Vienna to Salzburg, fate had it that we meet Constantine. Hahaha. He was an Austrian from the suburbs, twice our height with chubby hands. Kinda cute, with very little hair on his arms and legs…though he claimed to have a lot more somewhere else. Puaha. After some small talk, he just had to ask us…
“So, do American girls shave their legs? Because my girlfriend doesn’t, and she gave me the excuse that because American girls didn’t shave she didn’t have to.”
Of course, we immediately debunked that monstrous claim. And I had my smooth legs to prove it, haha. We asked him if the hairy legs bothered him…and he replied “only when we, uh….”
You get the picture.
We got so tired of people saying ni hao and konichiwa, that we started snapping back…even to teenage kids.
Teenage boy: “Ni hao ma”
Me: “Oh! you speak Chinese? Because I don’t!”
Teenage boy: “Don’t? (in a confused tone)”
Christina: “Do you speak English?”
Teenage boy: “Yes (with some sort of pride)”
Christina: “Yea, with an ACCENT!”
Then, all four of us: “GUTEN TAG GUTEN TAG GUTEN TAG!!!!!”
Obnoxious. And not very clever or witty either. But it was fun nonetheless.
The Hungarians are the nicest people ever. Even when we stopped for the briefest moment on the sidewalk to look at the map, someone would come up to us to see if we needed help.
We booked an apartment for two nights, and the owners were two Hungarian business partners who seemed like the most mismatched pair. I describe them as Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. One man was shorter and normal-looking…he seemed to have the most sense. The other man was taller and looked like someone who could easily have been a character in one of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories…except, he had this odd jolliness about him. He kept mumbling stuff like some sputtering motor.
Anyway, Budapest is really two areas (Buda and Pest) separated by the Danube River and connected by bridges. Buda is the greener side, and Pest is more city-like.
On Margaret Island, we took a bike ride in the form of a car. We role-played – Christina and Liz as dad and mom, and me and Jenn as obedient children.
London, UK (first and last stop)
London Eye, Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
We accidentally ran into the rehearsal parade for the Queen’s birthday. If you look closely at the middle of the picture, you’ll see a splatter of horse shit…and the band proceeding to march into it. Squish.