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.
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.