You know when you’re at McDonald’s post-clubbing?
Yes, yes you do.
Everyone pretty much looks like hell. Girls are walking barefooted with feet dragging across the filthy filthy linoleum floor, dudes are squinty-eyed and discussing the night’s triumphs and mishaps, and it is arguably one of the grossest places to be picked up at at the end of the night.
There’s always a few people who are still club-drunk and are laughing loudly, sputtering out their menu order with the coherency of a toddler, and are generally making a fool out of themselves.
That’s Winda and I, the morning after we’ve broken Fabrizio’s ancient key, missed our morning train to Florence, and are subsequently left wondering our purpose in life in an Italian McDonald’s. We buy 1 euro espresso shots.
We are so. Freaking. hHngover.
It is 9:00 AM in Rome — we had to leave Fabrizio’s apartment due to his checkout policy/we needed to get out of there ASAP before we broke anything else of his.
We are laughing-slash-crying because our heads hurt so much from last night’s escapades. We look like crap. We have our giant backpacks with us — of which is comedic in itself because our backpacks look like they could eat us.
Just to backtrack a bit, this was not our only drunk night in Rome. We also had the opportunity to party with some ridiculous Italians.
Lemme tell you the story.
We’ve set up at Campo de’ Fiori. We have our mojitos, our grape-flavoured hookah. We are basking. A group of Italian dudes at the next table motion towards us to join their table. We submit to their boyish timidness (derived from speaking in broken English) and yet, their Casanova calibre assertiveness. They literally move all of our stuff — our drinks, hookah, table, and chairs — to join their table.
Naturally, they begin introducing themselves. Here we have a lawyer, e-commerce specialist, accountant, and..
“Taxi driver!” They exclaim in unison, pointing out their most outgoing friend whom had initially approached us. He smiles sheepishly. They pause for a second, taking in his self-consciousness. “… And stylist!” They add with enthusiasm/thick Italian accents, pronouncing it stye-leest!
We chat. They are hilarious. One of them, named Francesco, has an amazing handlebar moustache — reminiscent of our friend Alessandro — and continuously strokes it. They talk about their jobs and the friends emphasize just how stylish the Taxi Driver-sash-Stylist is. They really want us to know that he is more than just a taxi driver.
The Stylist invites us to a club.
We get into a cab and head to a Roman club. In hindsight, was it a good idea to get into a cab with strange Italians? I’m gonna say no…
Bumpin’ is not the word I’d use for the club we’re at — maybe simply interesting. The Stylist turns out to be an amazing dancer. Really amazing. Winda steals his stylish hat. We booty bump with Francesco. The Stylist does the Harlem Shake a few times. The ratio between men and women at this club is way off.
I can’t really remember all the details of getting home, but we do. A cab takes us back to our AirBnb in trastevere and I remember him asking for a kiss instead of paying him in euros.
Hard pass, my friend.
Ciao, Roma! You were so good to us.
Sidenote: I come back again for another adventure later on in my Eurotrip — this second time we meet two Italian boys who ask us if we’d like to break into the Coliseum! God bless the Italians.
I am wholly smitten by the Italians’ passion for life.
Amidst the heaps of freshly made pasta, the espresso that gives you a pep in your step, and an abundance of facial hair on men everywhere.. Italy has a feeling to it. It’s that southern European steeze for days, a lust for life — the untie your hair and let it fall loosely around your shoulders movie moment, the mimosa waiting on the table just beckoning you at brunch, and falling asleep at the beach just to wake up to a bronzed goddess type of tan.
It is basically the embodiment of Sunday Funday.
It all starts with our beloved Airbnb host, Fabrizio. He is yet another Italian character. He has thick wavy hair to his chin, a full moustache, and of course, that distinctive Italian accent. He laughs a lot. Discusses food. Is very calm even though we are an hour late (that southern European lifestyle steeze). He finds our inability to open his front door funny, instead of what it actually is — embarrassing. He is all things relaxed, often casually shaking his chestnut locks out of his eyes and smiling at our all around ridiculousness. He actually walks in on me in nothing but a towel over the course of our stay there, says, “Oops,” and giggles his way out.
In reference to this Italian love of life, even Frabizio’s wifi is appassionata. His apartment is small but quaint as ever, located in the hip district of Trastevere, and seems remarkably Italian — bidet, small chairs and tables, and medieval keys and all. I am laughing thinking about him (and that time he walked in on me).
We are in Rome during World Cup. Campo de’ Fiori is packed to the brim with onlookers, and we are relishing in all of it. We cheer. We drink beer. We scream, “Forza Italia!” whenever Italy scores a goal. I don’t even pretend to know things about football because… whatever.
The game ends and the crowd begins to thin. After a few drinks — a few shots of tequila for some — with the two boys from the previous post, we venture ONWARDS! towards Trastevere. We are always down for a midnight adventure.
We trod along the cobbled streets, teetering precariously after a couple drinks. Trastevere proves to be further from the city centre than I remembered.
“It’s like, twenty minutes away.” I say flippantly. “Or something.”
“No, it’s not Kaylynn.” I think Winda has taken three consecutive tequila shots at this point, but her innate ability to navigate is still with her. Also she’s using that firm “No, Kaylynn” tone with me. Oh, Monica.
She even pulls out her phone and shows me on Google Maps just how far away we are from Trastevere. The highlighted path on Google Maps looks pretty long — but who can really know for sure? It’s kind of hard to gauge how proportionate a GPS map is to real life when you’ve been drinking…
I give in and we eventually hail a cab. We loiter around an actual tevere in Trastevere — Ponte Testaccio. We chat. I ask a lot about Italy. Alessandro’s accent makes me laugh just thinking about it. We discuss where we’re going next — Florence, Venice, and Cinque Terre. We are molto eccitato. Alessandro assures us that we will fall in love with his country (of course he does.) It’s getting late — like 4 AM late.
As previously mentioned, Rome is old as fuck. It is so old, we have to use giant medieval keys for everything. The doors to a lot of buildings need a good shove before its hinges tweak open.
So we’re saying our goodbyes by our apartment entrance. Winda’s unlocking the door to the building, as I am hugging the boys goodbye. She suddenly gasps.
“Shit!” She screams. “Shit!!!!!”
She’s holding half of the key. That giant ass key broke in the lock.
I begin to laugh (and cry at the same time.) We are on the precipice of getting completely fucked over in two ways:
a) Not getting into our apartment and waiting until dawn — most likely missing our 7:40 AM train due to lack of preparation and sleep/hysteria/more key trauma/the sheer fact that it’s at 7:40 AM
b) Royally pissing off Fabrizio and his nice-looking lady friend (who he introduced us to before we had left for World Cup festivities) by waking them up in the middle of the night/handing them broken property
I turn to Alessandro and very seriously, “You’re going to have to climb up people’s laundry lines, hop from balcony to balcony, enter our apartment, then let us in from the inside.”
Alessandro laughs. He thinks I’m joking.
“We’re just going to have to wake him up,” Winda says — commonsensical as always in the most stressful of situations. God bless.
We begrudgingly press the buzzer. Once. Twice. Multiple times. The shrill sound of it is deafening.
Fabrizio doesn’t even answer the intercom at this point. He just buzzes us in. It’s 5 AM.
We say goodbye again, walk upstairs to our apartment with our heads hanging in shame. We are positive Fabrizio hates us. We are the worst.
But guess who leaves us a raving review on Airbnb..
We end up missing our morning train to Florence anyways.
“You do NOT want to get political with me!” I’m screaming. Top of my lungs. Full force. I’m screaming, and I’m probably spitting all over my friend who is trying to calm me down.
My head weaves to the right of her face, so I can get a good look at my oppressor. She’s too quick for me and continues to mirror my bobbing and weaving so that I can’t make eye contact with this douchebag motherfucker.
“You do NOT want to get political with me!” I repeat, because clearly–he does not want to get political with me.
It’s 5AM on a Saturday morning, post-club, we’re standing in line to hail a cab, it’s misting out, and I’m embarrassing myself and my friends in front of large percentage of the city’s Danish youth. I am just raging at this giant Norwegian guy in the middle of the street–jumping towards his towering physique, flailing my arms in the air in all my fury, and just being extremely World Star Hip Hop-ish cray.
He had asked me in a very accusatory tone, “Why do you have to bring such an attitude to Denmark?” To which I was immediately offended by and when the yelling started.
“What the FUCK is that supposed to mean?” The East Van in me is awakened.
He subsequently calls me a racist.
In my drunken state, I transcend into this obnoxious know-it-all Canadian girl. “You want to talk about political correctedness? Let’s do it LET’S DO IT NOW!” I shout.
“Kaylynn,” this is about the fifth time one of my friends is clasping my shoulders. “Let’s go home, it’s not worth it. Ignore him.”
More shouting ensues, further angry drunken words are exchanged, and I continue to make a scene despite the cajoling of my friends. Someone tells one of my friends to shut the fuck up. Tempers flare. I am going to kill someone via heated political discussion anytime now.
One of the Norwegian Guy’s equally massive friends appears on my left, “We’re really sorry. We’re going to go home this way, and you and your friends can go home that way, and we’ll never have to see each other ever again.”
He’s probably genuinely hoping he never runs into us ever again. In hindsight, I can understand why.
I don’t remember what exactly happens next, but I somehow get shuffled away from the Norwegian Guy and his very tall friends, and we get into a cab. I vocally and very liberally express my hatred for the Norwegian Guy as the cab driver takes us back home to our dorm. What a fucking asshole. I complain the entire way home about my attitude. I complain about my attitude.
“Do I have an attitude problem?” I wail in the backseat of the cab.
I have no pictures from that night, but here is a picture of me when I’m not trying to antagonize strangers while studying abroad in a foreign country.
“We’re going to THY!” I have been screaming this for the past week and a half every time someone asks me what I’m doing for Christmas abroad in Denmark.
Peter has graciously–and cautiously–taken in two wild and very foreign creatures into his family’s Danish home: a Canadian Girl and a Spanish Girl.
Peter calls us skøre piger in Danish (crazy girls.)
A Danish Christmas is straight out of a fairytale: so so so many cookies (brunkager, pebernødder, klejner, more cookies primarily made out of butter, etc.), marzipan that we make ourselves on the 23rd (lille jul aften)–rolled in nuts, dipped in chocolate, folded into nougat, molded into the shape of a cat, dancing and singing around the Christmas tree–real candles lit on the Christmas tree (juletræ) as we’re dancing around it in a holiday frenzy (Pat and I were screaming in fear at this point), a ridiculous amount of food at every meal, making Christmas ornaments with the whole family (folding Danish hearts and stars), shots of schnapps taken at appropriate celebratory intervals–“Skål!”–during Christmas lunch (julefrokost)/every lunch, an onslaught of potatoes, Danish Christmas beer (juleøl/julebryg), the most adorable of traditions–like whoever finds the almond in the risalamande (Danish rice pudding) wins a prize (or traditionally, a marzipan pig. And of course I won.), visiting extended family for more julefrokost, litres and litres of wine, and a lot of basking in each other’s presence in front of an open fire–the essence of Danish hygge.
And by the way, Thy is beautiful. I am literally just frolicking in a winter wonderland right now–casual sledding after julefrokost, leisurely walks through the snowy countryside, quiet moments by the coast with a frigid breeze, and driving through a living postcard of snow-capped evergreens and fields that go on forever.
And I get to spend Christmas with the cutest of pies. Undoubtedly, two of my favourite people in the entire kartoffel-filled, wrapped in bacon, smeared with butter, involved in rationality, smelling of freshly baked bread, Danish universe. I’m also very much in love with Peter’s parents. Very much–as I happen to be easily smitten by bountiful food spreads, gentle and hospitable souls, homemade jam, roadtrips, and people with a penchant for fine cheese and excelling in the art of relaxing during the holidays. I have since, on a number of occasions, casually suggested to Peter that his parents adopt me. Because, let’s be real–who doesn’t love homemade jam???????
Glædelig jul from
Spain Catalonia, Denmark, and Canada!
Det er meget hyggeligt.
If you couldn’t tell already, Winda is the ringleader of all things organizational. I occasionally call her Monica–as in Monica from Friends–to shine light on her particular OCD-ness and to purposely grind her gears (she’s not too fond of Monica–the word hate is often used when I bring her up), but for real–God bless Winda and her incessant need for order.
She is the reason we have yet to be kidnapped and then human trafficked as a limited time Asian commodity. She is the reason why this trip exists. She is the reason why I get up in the morning–because, quite literally, she is the one near-violently shaking my shoulders and going, “Kaylynn! We have stuff to do today! Get up.”
As a personal challenge to myself (and possibly a means of amusement for Winda), I am given the reins upon our arrival in Budapest. It is my sole responsibility to find shelter in this foreign country. Our European adventuring vitality is in my hands.
“Go, Kaylynn.” Winda nods to what’s ahead of us. It’s almost 9PM in Budapest, the sun is beginning to set, and we’ve arrived in what looks like a neighbourhood where panhandling is its main source of income.
I pause and look at her with the uncertainty of a child. We have just taken a bus from Prague to Hungary, and it was sooooo relaxing: cappuccinos were flowing and righteously handed to us; we were all happily nestled in plushy leather seats and basking in non-stop air con.
Now I’m holding a fucking map. I hate maps. Don’t give me a map. I’m not in Vancouver anymore–there are no mountains indicating where north is. I’m so confused. And sad. So very sad.
Winda crosses her arms and gets increasingly tight-lipped as we venture back and forth around the subway station. We walk one direction. We stop. We go the other direction. We stop. The walking aimlessly continues.
We are padding along the dirty sidewalk with our massive backpacks and a look of perpetual bewilderment plastered on my face. I know the Monica Gellar that resonates deep inside her wants to point us in the right direction/wants to yell at me for being a navigational aberration.
I stall a little. I’m hoping to awaken the OCD beast within her.
“Ummmmm,” I bite my lip and pretend to read the street signs. It’s all in Hungarian. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. We venture towards what looks like a very dirty, spray-painted red, and audibly abandoned nightclub.
I get really sad for about ten seconds and wonder if I accidentally booked us a nonexistent/located in a shithole Airbnb. I had one job.
Winda’s now irritated and muttering under her breath–because I’m clearly leading us towards a Hungarian drug lord or a room full of money launderers.
I smile at her innocently, “Maybe it’s this way?” I offer despairingly, banking on any ounce of sympathy.
She doesn’t answer.
“Okay! I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE! Winda, help me!!!”
She snatches the map out of my hands and subsequently gets our shit in order. We arrive at our destination (it was five minutes away, in my defense) and meet our lovely Hungarian host. We also meet the most annoying person on the planet. And he lives with us.
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.
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.