We visit the famous castle. We watch a clock tower show (overrated.) We indulge in amaaazing strawberry and grapefruit beer for a euro, from a restaurant owned by the sweetest little man who helped us find our hostel on our first day. We have cute European breakfasts in our hostel. We go on a pub-crawl. We embark on a walking tour in 30 degree heat and learn more about Czech Republic during WWII (personal fav) alongside some self-deprecating narration. We befriend Americans. We get into a yolo-frenzy one morning when we come across what’s called bubble beer. It’s exactly what you think it is. It’s bubble tea but instead of a taro slush or whatnot, you are drinking syrup flavoured beer. I get passion fruit and rainbow jelly; Winda gets plain beer and pearls. She thoroughly does not enjoy her bubble beer. I most likely consume high fructose corn syrup mixed with alcohol at ten in the morning.
We have more Czech potato soup to the point where we feel like potatoes. We go to the Lennon Wall and gaze silently at its chaotic beauty–nodding approvingly to ourselves that we are all indeed dreamers. We have a lovely picnic with things found in our hostel room. We take a romantic paddle boat ride under the Charles Bridge. Winda tries making me call her captain. I refuse. Winda and I fall in love due to her exceptional organization skills and my bratty but surprisingly endearing behaviour.
Joking. That’s not until later on during our backpacking trip.
I’m ready to leave now. To my chagrin, we end up staying an extra night in Prague because busses heading to Budapest are booked full. I am near devastated. I want to leave this country. Everyone here is kind of cranky and I’m over the architecture. When it comes to backpacking, I’m smitten by the way a city feels as opposed to how it looks. I’m all about feeling as opposed to aesthetic value. Winda is like, “But the city is so beautiful!” Prague is stunning if you’re into gothic buildings, Disney-ish castles, and one big bridge–but I, for one, am over it. Prague is like the handsomest guy at the bar but he has absolutely zero personality/dumb as a doorknob/ends up being racist.
Bye, Prague. You were all kinds of beautiful and that’s about it.
We arrive in Prague. I’m recovering from an allergy attack, but am ready to bask in all the presence that is well-preserved buildings and el cheapo beer. We have heard rumours of Prague. Mainly that it is party central, dirt cheap, and that the ice cream is pretty legit. So we roam. We have dinner. Czech cuisine is particularly potato-ey. Winda and I are huge fans of their potato soup, and their beer is bubblier than expected.
It is fucking roasting in Prague, by the way. Stickiness is at an all time high, we are panting 95% of our time here, and it is a no-pants nation. As the sky dims on our first day in Prague and hordes of young travellers congregate in preparation for a night of debauchery (synonymous with Prague’s pub crawl), we wander into Prague’s Old City Square. It is très nice. The rumours are true–this is the equivalent to Helen of Troy–it is like standing in a fairytale come to life.
Face-To-Face With The Degenerates Of Our Country
We meet a fellow Canadian on our first night, and spoiler alert! I fucking hate him. As we’re seated having drinks on a patio–the evening air is all nice and serene, and with the Old City Square bustle in full view–we can hear his douchebag drawl from a mile away. “It’s called yellow fever in Canada,” he says knowingly to his friend, “Just go up to them and ask them how they are, and where they’re going tonight,” He’s purposely speaking very loudly. Homeboy’s got a case of unashamed, self-proclaimed yellow fever/most likely objectifies women on the daily. I obviously have to destroy him.
Canadian Douchebag is sitting with friends (which baffles me till this day, because really? He has friends?). His nice Hungarian friend asks us to take a picture of their group. Hungarian Friend explains that he’s here with his brother and his brother’s new wife (cue awww), and with his friend, Canadian Douchebag. He asks where we’re from, “We’re from Canada,” we say. Canadian Douchebag interjects–all slouched in his seat and oozing a perceived coolness about all things–“I’m from Canada too. Toronto.” No one fucking cares.
Hungarian Friend joins us, and we really like him. He tells us about his search for true love (I am dead serious, as is he), his struggle to find love while working in Germany due his issues with German and Hungarian women alike (no German wants to move to Eastern Europe, German women are hard to get, etc.) This man’s got a torrid love affair with media’s depiction of true love, and we sympathize for him.
His friend, Canadian Douchebag, however, is suuuuuch a colossal douche. He waddles over, uninvited obviously, and sits down next to me. An aura of ickiness immediately clouds over us.
“You Viet? You look Viet.” he nudges me, while simultaneously paying tribute to all panda fever stereotypes everywhere.
Is this flirting?
“No.” I respond dryly. Levels of unamusement are rising at speeds never seen before.
“What are you girls doing tonight?”
“We’re going out–”
“Can I come? I’ll pay,” Ignorant, sexist, and talks over people! We have struck Yukon gold here (pun-intended).
“No. We have our own money.”
“OK then, you can pay,” he throws his head back laughing, holding his stomach–fully absorbing the pronounced hilarity of his joke.
His presence continues to severely irritate me. He drones on–with the most pitiful attempt at flirting in the I’m-an-asshole-but-you-like-it approach.
I want to tell him he’s not remotely cute enough to pull that off. Instead, I whip my head to look at him dead on, and say, “You need to leave.”
His eyes widen in disbelief at my blatant lack of decorum, “Are you serious?” he stutters.
“You think you’re ahead right now, but I’m telling you, you’re not even in the running.” Not even.
Winda bursts into laughter from across the table.
The look on his face would make any feminist proud.
“You think I’m joking, but I’m not.” I add, shutting down any suggestion that this might be some flirty kind of witty banter.
He’s still staring at me in shock. “Wow,” he over-enunciates the ‘o’ in a dramatic attempt to make me regret my audacity. “Wow.”
He gets up to leave and turns to his Hungarian Friend, “This one’s a bitch,” he lowers his voice but not so that I can’t hear him. He wants me to hear his last stab at self-preservation.
Thank God, we got rid of that one.
Besides getting Canadian Douchebag to go the fuck away and befriending his Hungarian Friend, we resume our night of indulging in cheap beer and asking our server for fun facts about the Czech Republic. We love fun facts. We learn that Škoda (car brand that saved our life in Iceland) is from the Czech Republic. We eventually venture into Prague’s nightlife district, and subsequently fall asleep at a club.
The constraints of jetlag has produced the following napping milieus: public spa room, in the parking lot of a Taco Bell, at our hostel in Germany instead of going on a pub crawl, and now a club in Prague. Yes. It is possible to completely doze off while eurotrash techno reverberates off the walls. Our bodies have failed us. We go home with our heads hung in shame, and pray for a better, less sleepy, tomorrow.
If there exists a certain finesse to catching trains, Winda and I have not mastered it. Fuck no. Catching trains borders on the familiar processes of me going, “We’re not going to make it,” Winda saying, “We have to make it,” a scramble for appropriate train accoutrements (snacks), the preeminent mad dash (it is so not cute to run with a giant backpack, let alone with two), and a lot of panting.
We finally get on our train (arms laden with sandwiches and currywurst.) Being from Canadia and all, we rarely use trains to travel, and so the idea of reserving a train seat is beyond us. That is, until we get on the actual train and notice just how fucking packed it is.
After a lot of, “Is this seat taken?” we finally settle into a cabin with a nice Taiwanese boy who studies mechanical engineering in Frankfurt, and adult twins from somewhere in Bavaria. An older German dude joins us later, but that’s later.
Allergies? This Is New Information.
We’re slowly getting comfy in our seats, nestling deep into our nap positions, when it starts. I’m suddenly overcome with a case of the sniffles. My eyes begin to burn–it literally feels like someone smeared Tiger Balm on my eyelids. I rub them until my eyes water. My eyes hurt to open because they’re basically swollen shut now. Winda panics and says, “Are you okay?!?! Kaylynn, I think you’re having an allergic reaction!!!” Fuck me.
The rest of the train ride is spent with our cabin window closed because we figure I’m allergic to pollen. Our new Taiwanese Friend and the Adult Twins are so incredibly understanding about the whole ordeal, despite the fact that we basically spend the next 5 hours and a half in a makeshift sauna. I kid you not, it’s 23 degrees+ outside, and so our cabin is now refuge to sweaty international bodies.
Obviously, I feel like a complete fucking asshole the entire time. Old German Dude joins us for a little while, sweats his ass off for some time, and then nopes the fuck out as soon as the train starts emptying. For the rest of the train ride, Winda and I change into denim shorts, and I have aviators on to mask the hideousness that is my eye situation right now. Crisis under control.
I Buy Chocolate From A Giant Dick
Train rides are kind of like roadtrips, because you are literally stuck with a certain amount of people for a certain amount of time. In addition to Adult Twins from Bavaria, Old German Dude in khaki shorts who definitely hates me, and every Asian mom’s dream come to life (did I mention that our Taiwanese Friend is trilingual?)–there is a delightful youth marching band aboard, whom squeeze out a cheerful song every now and then; a group of Italian teens that repeatedly burst into the chorus of Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, and abruptly stop after “I need you baby, to warm the lonely night,” because they don’t know any more of the song; and our personal fav, the Bavarian Bachelor Party.
It all starts with a group of guys in their mid-20s knocking on all cabin doors–box of condoms and candy in tow–asking if we’d like to purchase anything for a euro. I give them my best Fuck off, now glare through my sunglasses, as they badger our Taiwanese Friend about getting a condom–since he’s so appropriately seated with Winda and I. One of them is donning a giant penis costume. His friend explains that they’re collecting money because Giant Penis is getting married soon, and this is his bachelor party. Everything makes sense now. The penis. The condoms. The shameless solicitation of spare cash.
We learn that Prague is the Las Vegas of Europe, and that publicly humiliating the groom via forcing him to wear unflattering costumes for the entirety of the trip is the norm. Taiwanese Friend is a gentleman (like I said, poster child for Asian moms everywhere), and agrees to give them a euro in exchange for a photograph. Winda and I buy chocolate, and the throng of chanting Bavarians disappear for the time being.
The Bavarian Invasion
The Bavarians come back–three of them to be exact. They reek of beer and the faint smell of day-old cigarettes. Two of them start talking to us–asking us if we’re sisters (we’ve gotten that a lot), where we’re going and where we’re from, and the likes. The third Bavarian is clearly very drunk and hyper. He begins to parkour in the train. I’m dead serious. I ask his friends, “What the fuck is he doing?” and he pops his head into the cabin, “Parkour!”
We never get their names so, I’ll just have to name them based on their personalities: Tall Glass of Water, What-Are-You-Like-40?, and David Guetta. David Guetta is the one parkouring, by the way. While Tall Glass of Water and What-Are-You-Like-40? try to lay the mack down, David Guetta continuously cockblocks his friends by brazenly and repeatedly sliding the cabin door close. This goes on for a long period of time: David Guetta slide the door close on his friends as they are mid-sentence, TGW and 40 slide it back open in exasperation.
They tell us about their plans in Prague: strip clubs and big asses. TGW literally says they’re going to find strippers with a big ass. Being very interested in European languages, Winda and I ask the guys to sing us their national anthem. Please start picturing two grown ass men with guttural German voices, slightly inebriated and swaying, and occasionally–but pridefully–slurring the words to the Bavarian Anthem. We are laughing at this point. Such a marvellous spectacle is upon us.
In the brief moments between trying to crawl to the ceiling and do backflips off the walls, I tell David Guetta that he looks like David Guetta. He abruptly stops his acrobatics and stares at me dead on, “I am much better looking than David Guetta.”
He trudges between TGW and 40 (as they’ve been standing on either side of our cabin door), and gets to eye-level with Winda and I. Very seriously and mildly drunkenly, he wants to clarify, “I’d like to think that I am in between looking homeless and looking like David Guetta. But I think I look more homeless than I do David Guetta!”
And he goes on. He tries to say, “How dare you!” but it comes out, “How you dare!!!!!” with excess saliva, and some wobbling. He says some crude things about David Guetta that I won’t repeat. We are laughing. Offended David Guetta is hilarious. We love Offended David Guetta.
“Hey Winda, Didn’t You Say You Wanted A Pretzel?”
TGW, 40, and David Guetta eventually leave. Winda and I discuss food (one of our greatest passions.) I say I wish we had gotten more currywurst, and she says, “I really wanted to try a German pretzel.”
Lo and behold, a new face comes knocking on our door.
This guy–definitely an active member of the bachelor party–stumbles towards us, drunk eyes all wild and ablazin’, wafting in the scent of expired beer, and wielding a half-eaten pretzel. “I’ve come to offer you a pretzel!” he boldly announces, and then very nearly falls over. Winda politely declines. I look at Winda and tilt my head, “Hey Winda, didn’t you just say you wanted a pretzel?” She gives me the death glare, “No.”
Our guest introduces himself as the brother of the groom. In response to our refusal, he offers–in broken English and struggling to find the right word for chive–to butter the pretzel and serve it to us with minced chives (schnittlauchbutterbreze.) How sweet is that???? I smile at Winda and say again, “But you said you really wanted to try a German pretzel just now!” She’s about to cut off all my hair in my sleep.
Spoiler: we never take the pretzel. Because, really, where has that pretzel been? What is its life story? Do we even know about that pretzel’s life? Instead, we have a nice chat about the brother of the groom’s new piece of real estate situated on a farm. Him and his girlfriend bought it together. Very, very sweet.
And then we arrive in Prague.
Besides Blacking Out In Germany…
We visit Theatine Church, which is a smoke show of a church (oof.) We have cute German breakfasts at our hostel. We go on a Dachau concentration camp tour–of which remains the best tour I’ve been on throughout my entire backpacking trip. We go on a bike tour called Mike’s Bike Tours with a guy named Charles. We bike through a nudist meadow, the Englischer Garten (English Garden), Odeonsplatz, and Eisbach (surfing in the Isar River, So. Fucking. Cool). Winda contemplates jumping into the Isar River. I am strongly against this idea. We eat the creepiest looking fish on a stick, bratwurst, schnitzel (obvs), and beer at Königlicher Hirschgarten (largest outdoor beer garden in the world). We contemplate stealing another beer glass. We decide against it–our hostel receptionist (Jon From Australia) has already labelled us as criminals escaping from Canada.
We go to Augustiner Keller, end up sitting at the same table of a nice (and super fucking tall) Australian couple, and are fed lies about Australia (I say this in the most loving way). We make an American friend. We will eventually and unexpectedly see this American friend later on in our travels because the universe does things like that..
Bye, Germany–you were just delightful.
I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… But it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much–my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… You will someday.” – Lester Burnham, American Beauty
Lost Luggage… Mayhem Ensues A Few Hours Later
Touchdown in Munich, and we find out the airline lost our luggage. Winda is freaking out–I’m alright. I’m laughing, and she’s grabbing and shaking me erratically, “How are you not freaking out right now????” I have faith that our luggage will be restored to us by this evening. The lady who got mad at us at the front desk said so. All will work out. We have free café au lait from the Lost Luggage department. I am happy.
In pursuit of our recent upheaval at the airport, we end up getting yelled at a total of three times upon arrival–but we still have free café au lait. I’m still happy. Welcome to Germany.
This thought process is indicative to the kind of attitude I’ve had for the entirety of the trip. I’m always sure things will be okay–if I could sum it up in one gesture, it would be a shrug and a small smile. My friends say it’s because I have no regard for the rules of life–both written and inherent.
We make our way to our hostel. Our first order of business is finding food, obviously.
Not the biggest fan of German food, but I do loooove me some curry wurst; train station sandwiches are not too bad, and HB beer is probably my favourite beer thus far.
One of my favourite things about Germany is how you can simply join somebody’s table if there’s no more available space in a restaurant. We get seated next to this dude who was drinking alone, end up talking, find out he’s a lawyer, and he ends up taking us to our first German beer hall. And this is where we committed our first European crime:
I’ll have you know we were encouraged by the German lawyer. He tells us he stole one when he was 16–it’s practically a rite of passage. And we fucking did it.
“We. Have. NOTHING!!!!!!!”
We get back to our hostel–all proud of our recent feat–and we ask the front desk whether our bags have arrived. No, no they haven’t. And it starts to dawn on us that we have no pj’s, no clean underwear, and no things to shower with. We are dirty as fuck. We. Have. NOTHING. Those minerals from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland? Still attached to, what really felt like, every single fibre of hair on my body.
We are bordering on hysterical at this point. We ask if they have any hostel merch to give us. The receptionist dude pulls out two tiny tank-tops with “Fully Booked” emblazoned on the front, and says, “I have these. But I really have, like, zero idea where they came from.” We take them in sheer desparation.
Our hostel gives out these drink vouchers for their bar upon arrival–except you only get one. We turn to our receptionist after crying pretty loudly in misery, “Can you give us another drink voucher?” Winda asks. I say, “Can you give us, like, five?”
And he does. And so, here are the beginnings of my demise.
Waking Up Next To My Hofbräuhaus Mug
I felt like I was pretty well-versed in the art of drinking until I blacked out for the first time ever in Germany.
Had a dream I was yelling, then got yelled at in return, had pizza, and tried throwing up. Only to awaken next to my Hofbräuhaus mug, in the same clothes as last night. My initial thought is, Aw… Winda put me to bed with my mug because that’s all we have right now. Then I notice I’m in the same clothes as last night. Ew, ew, EW.
The familiar words, What the fuck happened? surface in my mind, and I’m rolling out of our hostel bunk bed with an intolerable ringing in my ears.
Where The Fuck Is MY Towel?!??!!?
Turns out, upon receiving those 5 vouchers, we went a little crazy at the bar. I remember the personalities of the evening–Marcus #2 (Marcus #1 was the lawyer who encouraged us to steal), Marcus #2’s horny bald friend, and a French surfing nomad named Pierre. I remember spewing out bits of French (as I have done embarrassingly throughout this entire fucking trip), and telling Winda that Marcus #2 was really boring and kind of dumb.
Skipping forward (because I’ve lost track of this part of the evening,) I’m told that we enjoy consecutive glasses of wine and beer–numbers that far outstretched the longevity of our existing 5 drink vouchers. We get pizza–I wanted potato pizza, and Winda asks me very firmly, “Are you sure you want potato pizza?” (She hates potatoes.)
We proceed to our hostel lobby. Same dude that gave us 5 vouchers is there (I think his name’s Jon From Australia.) Winda wants a towel to sleep in, as we have no pjs. Jon From Australia hands her 2. I start screaming hysterically, “WHERE’S MY TOWEL?!?!?!?”
Jon From Australia’s colleague is quick to intervene. “Screaming isn’t going to get you anything!” She apparently snaps at me. Jon From Australia removes himself from the situation. I’m not even ashamed at this point, instead I’m really fucking sad, and really fucking drunk. “I’m sorry,” I say, “I’m just so sad. We. Have. NOTHING!!!!”
We leave the lobby area (I’m sure everyone was happy about that.) Winda is taking a shower, when I throw open the door (as she’s taking a shower), and frantically (and drunkenly) explain myself, “I need to throw up. I’m going to throw up. I need to throw up!” I try throwing up. I don’t end up throwing up.
I get put to bed. And that’s how I end waking up next to my Hofbräuhaus mug.
We Lived Happily Ever After…
There’s a happy ending to this story. Upon waking up disheveled and disoriented, our luggage has been delivered to our hostel that morning. I go downstairs to retrieve what’s rightfully mine, and the boys at reception are all, “Why aren’t you jumping up and down like your friend?” I whisper-inhale (because I’m so fucking hungover/overcome with emotion and fatigue), “I just can’t.”
Answer: I’m going to say… 1 pint of beer, followed by 2 litres of beer, then another beer, then 2 glasses of wine, another glass of wine, a bit of Long Island Iced Tea, and that’s all I can really remember.
Day 1: Touchdown in Icelandia!!!! Our Excitement Faces Imminent Death Upon Arrival
Our stopover in Iceland is less than 24 hours, so we decide to rent out a car and explore, as opposed to booking any real accommodations. Plus, Reyjavik airport is very far away from most of Icelandic civilization, and public transit isn’t really bumping on this island. So it’s 6AM Iceland time (we left Vancouver at 3PM), jetlagged as fuck, and we fast approach the row of car rental companies located in the airport. Budget tells us they have no automatic cars. It soon occurs to us that all of Europe drives manual. Our North American driving skills are futile here. Fuck.
We have both learnt how to drive manual maybe once or twice. Ish. In the true spirit of adventure time, we get ourselves pumped up because failure is not an option at this point. “LET’S DO IT!!!” we shout. We proceed to talk a lot of shit: yolo, bitch/ain’t no thang/hair flipping/discuss watching YouTube tutorials on how to drive standard, etc. and rent out a manual car. (Mostly because a manual car is half the price of an automatic car–we are talking about from $80 CAD in comparison to $160 CAD here.)
Anyways, we get into the car, and we’re like, “Yeah, we’ll practice in the parking lot. No bigs.” Things are OK for the first 5 minutes. We can move out of the parking spot–woo fucking hoooo! We can reverse–suck my dick, automatic! The ball is rolling, we are talking more shit while simultaneously flipping our hair, and then we accidentally get into the parking lot’s exit lane.
Oh my God. We stall about ten times. More than that. A line begins to form behind us. A line of angry cars that are beginning to honk at us. I try to calm Winda down (she’s driving–could you even imagine what would be happening right now if I was?), and go through the whole, “Deep breaths. Ignore them. Just keep trying.”
There’s sharp rapping at our window. It’s a shuttle bus driver, and he’s looking pissed. His brow is exceptionally furrowed, and horn rimmed glasses are nearly falling off his face as he begins to scream at us in Icelandic. “We’re so sorry!” we say, “Could you help us move our car?” He shouts, “MOVE!!!” says more mean things in Icelandic, and skulks off angrily towards the back of the line. Well, we are in a fucking pickle.
In the rearview mirror, we can see someone getting out from the car behind us. Fucking great, more Icelandic scolding. No, wait. He’s 16. He’s 16, and he’s now knocking on our window–telling us he can move our car. Yes. A 16-year-old eventually moves our car for us.
We are back where we’re started–in the safety of the parking lot–except now we are vair rattled after getting yelled at upon our first day in Europe. We see this guy laughing at us from afar (the Kind Icelandic Gentleman pictured below.) He is knee-slapping laughing. Homeboy is revelling in our misery. We wave him over, and he tries to teach us how to drive stick. No dice. We are hopeless. So. So. Hopeless.
Long story short, we accept defeat and trade our failure of a manual car in for a beloved, ever-so-familiar, automatic vehicle. “I don’t think anyone has ever rented this car before,” the dude at the car rental place says, as he hands us the keys. We pretend to not be humiliated.
Fun Things In Iceland
With the proliferation of Tumblr, the aesthetic beauty of the Blue Lagoon is relatively renowned across the Internet. I feel like the Blue Lagoon is Helen of Troy, and yes, the rumours are true, y’all–it is very, very beautiful out here.
We bathe. We use the wet clay in buckets available for impromptu face masks. We find rocks to semi-nap on because at this point, we are beginning to get too jetlagged to function. We make the mistake of submerging our heads in the water–silica clay is horrible in your hair; it takes days to get out, and meanwhile feels like you’re just wallowing in your own filth. We rehydrate. We go upstairs to what they call a relaxation room, filled with excellent patio lounge furniture, and silence. We end up falling asleep in the relaxation room. For. Three. Hours. We decide it’s probably time to leave.
What We Ate In Iceland Because There’s Not Much Else To Talk About
After sleeping, we venture through town. We go to Taco Bell because in Iceland, they serve whale and puffin (yes, those cute little orange-beaked penguin things. They eat them.) and it costs about as much as our car rental does. We have $3 CAD tacos at Taco Bell, which is an American blasphemy. $3 for Taco Bell? My clogged arteries are crying tears of hot sauce and faux sour cream. Ameeerica, they wail. America, they whisper-exhale.
At Least There Is Free Wi-Fi At Taco Bell
We sit in our car (our Octavia Škoda) in the Taco Bell parking lot. Our eyelids grow heavy. 15 minute nap? “Okay, but just 15 minutes.” We sleep for another 2 hours. In a Taco Bell parking lot.
We also have Icelandic hot dogs, because they are a thing. And because we can’t afford anything else.
Iceland, you were not my favourite.