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.
“That will be 80 euros,” the airline dude says nervously.
Airline Dude’s very sweaty brow is reflecting off the fluorescent lights hanging above us and his attempt at feigning any last ounce of authority is more or less transparent. Poor guy probably gets reamed at on the daily for telling people they have to pay 80 fucking euros for luggage. It is literally some Utter. Fucking. Bullshit Vueling is trying to pull here.
It’s 9:30AM and I’m standing in Budapest airport with the world’s dirtiest ponytail, reeking of pálinka (Hungarian fruit brandy), and half my consciousness intact. We’ve been milling around in lineups like cattle for the past half hour. If I wasn’t still drunk from last night, I would be gratuitously casting dark gazes, making snarky comments in my head, eye rolling at conversations I’m not invited to, and being an all around salty asshat. But because I’m still mildly intoxicated from last night, I’m just floating in a vapid daze. We got home at 5AM last night, slept for 45 minutes, then booked it to the airport.
It’s been quite the night with the Hungarians.
“80 euros?” I sputter in astonishment/in my barely conscious stupor.
“That is very expensive.” I say slowly, as if he isn’t already aware and because I’m really hungover.
I stare at him, “That is very expensive.” I assume I’m repeating myself because I’m currently lacking the brain capacity to say anything remotely comprehensible.
The lady next to me starts laughing at me. She’s caught an earshot my unintelligible efforts at adult conversation. If there’s impaired driving, this is impaired negotiation.
“Fuck,” I whisper exhale and hand over my 80 fucking euros for my fucking stupid ass backpack. This is what Winda and I get for thinking we could get away with bringing our backpacks as carry-on. This is what we get for fucking with budget airlines.
Last night was such a mess. We meet Hungarians. More engineers. They buy us a lot of pálinka and we are then subsequently required to shout “Pálinka!” every time it’s consumed. We get our asses handed to us in foosball–after grabbing Winda by the shoulders and looking her dead in the eye and saying, “Don’t worry, I’m really good.” I am not really good at foosball. We go to a lot of bars. Hungarians have a way of making just about anything into a bar–twinkly lights, patio furniture, overhead projector with the FIFA World Cup on display, miscellaneous food truck, a tiki-ish bar, et voilà. Then there are the infamous ruin bars which, imagine a dirty, old, crumbling abandoned building, add various types of garage sale furniture, hang a fishing net over the ceiling, and serve alcohol. We drink Somersby apple cider, and I am extremely pleased. We almost get taken to a random flat (keyword: almost.) Hungarians are kind of romantic–I get told my beauty is like stars in the night sky, that I’m a Hungarian princess, and that this guy would marry me if he could speak English. Winda gets a stalker. I get a guy who doesn’t speak English (not the same guy who said he’d marry me.)
Winda resumes her role as Monica Gellar and I’m Phoebe in that episode where Phoebe is dating a diplomat who doesn’t speak a lick of English, and Monica is dating the functioning translator. I say this multiple times throughout the night. Loudly. The guy I’m with just looks at me and smiles very often.
“Oh. My. God.” I say, about fifty times throughout the night.
We stumble less than gracefully through the front entrance of our apartment building at an ungodly hour and laugh loudly/regretfully at the ridiculousness that is our night. In hushed tones we both agree to not say bye to James because he sucks and our time to escape is now.
Next stop, the Eternal City.
Tour des chambres is quite literally a tour of rooms. It is the best kind of dorm party–where people in your dorm decorate their rooms a certain theme, you have a theme-related game, and you are served a welcome drink. You go room to room, and you end up drunk as shit. It is très amusante.
I share a kitchen with 17 people, and 15 of us were participating this year, so we split up into pairs and had 7 themed rooms, and one game/welcome drink in the kitchen. The themes were:
0) Beer memory game in the kitchen
1) Wine-tasting in France
2) Nude sketch/croquis class in France
3) Life of Pi directing and reenactment
4) Camping under the stars (le mine)
5) Drinking in the dark
6) Danish New Years Eve
7) Music and hookah lounge
Learnt a lot of random shit about wine/realized how unsophisticated I am when it comes to wine; did not expect to see penis but did. Plus I won best nude sketch and that’s saying a lot about my hidden talents; made my flatmate eat cat food and gnaw on my other’s flatmate’s neck (the game was rewriting scenes from Life of Pi, and my team did it justly); watched my flatmates play the North American gem that is Chubby Bunny. One of my flatmates had to spit out her mouthful of marshmallows, and that mouthful floated in my toilet for about a week after; drank in the dark because it soo unheard of; Danish New Years Eve is the cutest thing ever, and you get to eat cake with adorable Danish flags everywhere; by the time we go to the music and hookah lounge, I was so drunk that I knocked over my flatmate’s hookah, and there was ash everywhere… Thank God my flatmates are Danish, and are very calm about these sorts of things.
The Beginning Of My Demise
Fast forward to the after party, and I’ve fallen and twisted my ankle. It wasn’t as though I was running, doing anything remotely athletic, or even wearing heels for that matter. I was simply trying to sit down next to my flatmate, and I just toppled over and rolled my ankle like a complete loser.
After having to be carried, then lots of complaining in bed while three of my flatmates are drunkenly laughing and trying to soothe me… I wake up the next morning, and the pain is ridiculous. My foot looks ridiculous. It’s ballooned to about 3x the size of my right foot, and it’s in the sickliest shades of purple and blue. Groce. I’m contemplating whether or not to post a photo here because it might really offend some viewers. I spend the rest of the day in the fort–drinking tea, listening to acoustic One Direction covers, and reading Pride and Prejudice.
Everyone’s telling me to go to hospital, and I’m just shrugging it off like, “Don’t be silly.” Because, as I said, I’m always in the mindset that everything’s going to be okay. Plus I fucking hate hospitals. There’s something about the colour of their walls that’s so… sterile. Like a starchy yellow colour that forever needs to be starchy and yellowed. And the smell of it all. I hate it. I’m starting to think that I hate institutions.
To The Hospital We Go
I finally cave. I plan to call my doctor on Monday, but things work differently in Denmark. Family doctors don’t have x-rays on hand, no real medical equipment or anything. My Danish girlfriend and my Danish flatmates tell me that I need to go the ER. The E-fucking-R. Fuck me.
In Denmark, you have to call before you go to the ER. Yeah. Yeeeeeah. Because of free healthcare, people had previously been showing up at the ER with paper cuts (this is a dramatization) and so, they developed a system where you have to call in before making a visit to your local emergency room. You have to call in, explain to the dispatcher what your emergency is, and if the dispatcher supposes your emergency worthy, then you may go to the ER.
My flatmate calls in Danish for me, and by the end of the call, the dispatcher goes, “She twisted it on Friday night? As long as she doesn’t come in smelling like Bacardi.”
Blah blah blah. 2 hours of waiting, 2 doctors, more questions regarding my level of sobriety on Friday night, and an x-ray later… I find out that I have no broken bones. Thank the Lord Holy Jesus, because my foot looked it had been dipped in ink for the two days, the swelling had not gone down whatsoever, and I could barely walk. It’s just badly sprained.
My medical file reads: “Friday, twisted ankle, drunk.”
And my first visit to a foreign hospital has been completed. Woooohoooo, motherfucker!
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.
- 2 pitchers of Sapporo, 7 bottles of sake, 2 pitchers of random cocktails, + too many tapas and skewers = $90 per person
- Taking the wrong highway exit, ending up at the airport, and having to leave through the airport parking lot = I wanna say priceless, but it was actually $4 + lots of screaming to myself in the car
Girls night out featuring a lot of in-depth discussion on “What is your worst puking story?” (mine was during Spring Break in Los Cabos with my head buried in the filthy toilet of the local El Squid Roe), the value of good friends, serenading the whole restaurant with [what we could remember of] the Sailor Moon theme song, followed by a thought-provoking question “Which sailor scout are you?”, several toasts to happy things, and high school hilarity.
Any time off always passes you in a blur. I remember being 8-years-old and complaining how it would be a whole year until I turned 9–literally banking on the fact that a year was equivalent to forever or “sooooooooooooo long, mom.” You literally just have to make the best of everything, which I will admit, I have not been living up to at all.
Adios, winter vaca! Not sure if I’m hoping to see you next year.. because that will either mean I’m graduated and avec job, or in school and without. Strange revelations.