Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

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A Little Bit of Home

September 2, 2007

I like Italy a lot. The countryside is beautiful, there’s tons to do here, but it’s pretty hard to get around when you’re by yourself and can only say Bongiorno, Ciao and Grazi.

Luckily, I had my friend, Zach, invite me to stay with him on the Naples Naval Base. It was nice to be surrounded by Americans for a little while. If you haven’t been to Europe, it’s not that they necessarily hate us, it’s just that they can identify us very easily, and they look for ways to screw us most of the time. That’s why it was a relief to be with Zach and his friends for a few days.

They all showed me a good time. Partying, watching movies, going to bars… Zach even took a couple of us out for my first authentic Italian meal. It was damn good, too. The only thing I didn’t understand was why they brought out the entrees first, then the appetizers, then the bread. It was a little fuckucked, but damn was it good!

I think my favorite part of the trip was meeting all of Zach’s friends. Whiskey was a total pimp. The guy could tell a girl she smelled like shit and looked even worse, and she’d probably leave the bar with him. Jerry, despite the fact that he’s a fucking Yankees fan, humored me by listening to my stories (and he didn’t kick my ass for being a Red Sox fan, which was a huge plus). Pat bought a breathalizer in hopes of actually breaking it with his BAC. Pat and Zach made a $40 bet that Pat couldn’t break .42… I almost shit myself when he told us he made it to .46 and got in a fight with the elevator the night before.


Naples was a pretty sweet time overall. I only hope the rest of my trip goes as well…

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Mi Familia Espanola

September 1, 2007

I’ve been to so many great places in the past 3 months, and I’ve seen some amazing sites. When it comes down to it all, though, I think the best place I’ve been so far is Alicante. I love the beaches, the palm trees, the lack of urine smell (found mainly in Rota) and the people.

We have family friends here that my dad hasn’t seen in almost 12 years. Still, they invited me into their homes, stopped what they were doing (they all own their own businesses), and have been showing me a great time here. Already, we’ve been to the beach, their personal pool and we toured the city’s beautiful 9th century castle (all in 1 day).

Not to mention, they have 3 of the best kids I’ve ever met. Javier is 4 years old and a handful, but he’s wicked funny and reminds me of myself when I was little. Danya is 6 and an amazingly cute and polite girl. Jorge is 9 and extremely polite, and we teach eachother words in our own languages. (Pretty sad, but at least I know that I have the language competency of a Spanish 9-year old.)

For a while, I was debating between studying abroad in Spain and South America. Now, I have made the decision that if I study anywhere in Spain, I want it to be in Alicante or Elche (a town just north of here.) Either way, I’ll be close to this beautiful city and my Spanish “family” that have done so much for me already.

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Aventuras Bolivianas

September 1, 2007

Madrid would not have been the same without David. He stands at a meager 5’5”, with long, greasy curls and a giant potbelly. He smells of stale peanuts and fried cardboard. If you met mi amigo David, you would instantly want him as a pet.

A few nights ago, I decided to go out on the town and see what the Madrileno Night Life is all about. I started off at El Museo de Jamon (translation: Ham Museum). Imagine walking up to a bar and having giant ham legs stare you back in the face.

So, I order some cerveza, start drinking and all of a sudden up pops this little fat weeble in his “Scorpion” hat and starts spitting rapid Spanish at me. Perfect… I can practice my Spanish with him.

We bust out conversation about all the good things George W is doing for the U.S., the U.S. dollar’s leverage in the global exchange, politics, Bolivia, Spain, Gypsies and their rattails and our families. (David works with his wife in Madrid and sends money back to support his 5 children in Bolivia.)

After a good hour and a half of talking and drinking, the conversation took a nose dive into perversion (like any convo between two guys would.) David started talking about pinocha, tetas y chupas. I’ll let you translate that on your own.

Next thing I know, we’re leaving the Ham Museum and headed for David’s favorite bar. Along the way, David takes me on a little detour… La Calle de Monclada. Hookers! Hookers all over the place! Nigerian, Romanian, Spanish, Moroccan… it’s like the ‘It’s a Small World’ Ride in Disney World but with cat calls, boob gropes and lots of syphilis and crabs.

Right away, I could tell David was like a fat kid at an all-you-can-eat buffet. He kept licking his lips every 5 seconds, and I never checked, but I’m sure he was walking half-mast the whole way up the street. He even tried to convince me to buy a hooker named Francese for both of us (…solamente 50 Euros…). My response: “David, no le joderia con tu pene!” (translation: I wouldn’t fuck her with your junk!)

We finished our sweep of Sexo Street, but David still had more tricks up his sleeve. He brought me to one of his favorite hangouts: El Peep Show! I actually never checked one out, and I can say I never will again, but I’ll cross it off my Life To-Do List.


Fast forward to about 10 minutes later… we’re sitting in the Ham Museum again, drinking more cervezas. All of a sudden, in walks this suave, debonair Frenchman, smoking a cigarette in a blue suit. (Yes, the description is necessary because this guy was a major badass. Imagine Antonio Banderas in a 60 year-old French guy’s body… total badass)

David: Hola Felipe. Como Estas?
Felipe: (pauses to take a long drag of his cig) Estoy…. Bien!

This guy was a total baller. We talk, we drink, and soon enough Felipe buys a round and tells me to buy the next. That’s when he asked me how much money I had. If you’ve ever traveled in a foreign country, you know that’s a total Red Flag. (Like my dad continues to tell me: stop being a schmuck and separate your money from your wallet.) I just played dumb and told him I had 10 Euro (more like 50).

A few minutes later, I pull out my wallet to pay for the round, and he grabs my wallet, calling me a liar. Felipe… the French pimp, this amazing badass… was pulling all the money from my wallet. He was actually robbing me in front of my eyes. The best part of all… he’s still smoking his cigarette while he nonchalantly begins to put the money in his pocket like it’s nothing.

I grab the money from his hand, grab my wallet and start yelling: “Who the fuck do you think you are? Get the fuck off my shit you asshole.”

Calmly, without even a twitch, he puffs on his cigarette and says, “You seem upset. You should go see my friend Francese…”

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Bittersweet Goodbye

August 19, 2007

This morning my co-workers left for the states. I am already missing some of them, but I can honestly say it was time to move on. I had an interesting 2 and a half months in Rota, but I’m glad I’m gone.

Today I was sitting in my room, dreading having to travel to Madrid because I had no idea how I was going to get there. Oh, best part of all: I had a plane ticket to get to Madrid with all my coworkers… like the giant asshole I am, I canceled the ticket two weeks ago when extending my trip.

Major travel anxiety kicked in, but I found a way, and now I’m on a high-speed train in 1st class, living the life of rich Spaniards. Pretty sweet ass accommodations, considering my dumb ass had to pay an extra 100 Euro to get there.

I’m glad I’m on my way to Madrid. Today, they have this show featuring 100 percussionists by a lake in El Buen Retiro (a park built by a former king) I’m wicked exicted to go see that and then hit up the tapa bars/discos/wherever else I end up.

My vacation has finally started, and it just set in. AND, I’m friggin excited.

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Rock the Kasbah

August 19, 2007

I remember hearing Rock the Kasbah when I was little and thought it was pretty catchy. Now, after seeing the Kasbah in Morocco, every time I hear the song, I’ll think of a strong urine smell and dirty street peddlers offering me hashish.

That’s right, I broke the rules and hit up Morocco. Americans, especially those on base, are restricted from visiting Morocco because of a terrorism scare. I think the base officials should just be honest and tell us not to go because Tangier it is like a giant smelly dog shit in the middle of a sandbox.

Don’t get me wrong… the people are very nice (when they’re not trying to sell you drums, carpets, hash and their younger sisters), but I can gladly say I visited Morocco, broadened my horizons and probably picked up a Venereal Disease while eating coos-coos at lunch, and I won’t ever go back.

Allow me to start from the beginning. A group of us went to Tarifa, the southernmost city in all of continental Europe. It is also the windiest fucking city I’ve ever been, too. You can be in a restaurant and get a gust of wind and sand shot in your face. Well, we got to Tarifa on Saturday night and decided to take a “Super Speed” ferry to Tangier, Morocco the next day.

I know I’m studying Spanish, but “Super Speed” must be lost in translation… what’s advertised as a 35 minute ride took us almost 2 hours from port to port. Maybe they decided to take the scenic route, you know like halfway out into the Atlantic and back toward this be.

So we get to Tangier, walk out of the boat, and I, being the tourist putz I am, start snapping pictures of the port… until I’m accosted by two guards who tell me to put my camera away and just shake their hands in my face. (Great first impression of this beautiful place, right?)

So, when we bought our tickets for the Speed Ferry, we paid the extra 0.60 Euro (Seriously, less than a Euro) for a guided tour including lunch. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out which was the better deal. Yeah, that’s what we thought until we started the tour.

We get on the bus after another 30 minutes of waiting in the port. Suddenly, we hear this booming voice over the PA system: “Hello, my name is Ahmed. Ah-med. Not Acchhhh-med and not A-med, but Ahmed.” (Yes, he literally said that.) We even had to practice his name before we started the tour. (I just called him schmuck-ass.)

We start the tour, see some lovely sites. I even see Jewish synagogues… I nearly shit my pants. Jews in Morocco just never occurred to me, but we even have our own section of the city. That’s right… we’re coming back.

We get to the infamous Kasbah. It’s split into 5 sections… living quarter, merchant quarter, artist and 2 others (I wasn’t totally paying attention). All you need to know about the Kasbah:
• Protect your pockets
• Try to breathe through your mouth to avoid the damaging your olfactory with the piss stench
• Do not make eye contact with the street hustlers
• If you do make eye contact, you’re fucked
• If you’re fucked… start spouting off random slang words to them… the one that worked best for me was “Buttplug”


• If all else fails, pull out your camera and start taking pictures of them… they’re all probably convicted felons or local pedophiles, so they hate having their pictures taken… it’s like mosquito repellent

Please don’t be fooled. I had a great time in Morocco. We got to see Camels (and my travelmates got to ride on them). We also saw snake charmers. These guys were like the ambiguously straight versions of Sigfreid and Roy in Morocco. One guy played the drum and smiled with his 3 teeth while the other guy stuck snake tails down girls’ cleavage. The trick was that the snake wrapped its tail around the girls necklace or shirt, so the guy had to reach in to get it out… brilliant man if I do say so myself.


We even had a delicious meal of shishkabob (still don’t know what kind of meat it was, but I noticed a few dogs were missing off the street when we left the restaurant) and coos-coos, bread, soup, etc.

After lunch, it was time to really immerse ourselves in the culture. Unfortunately, the tour guide’s idea of immersion was making us sit through in-store demonstrations and trying to sell us random Moroccan shit. For example, we had to sit through a 30 minute (and I shit you not) a 30 minute demonstration on Moroccan carpets. The guy told us to “feel his wool” and explained the difference in quality between woven carpet and knotted carpet with the double swoop. Midway through his demo, I started laughing hysterically, actually tearing up, and he stopped the demo so that I could calm down. I just couldn’t help myself. You would have laughed if you were right there beside me listening to Muhhamed tell us about his wool and the fine quality of his rug.

It’s pretty obvious that it was quite an experience. My mom told me when I was younger that she went to Morocco. When she was there, all the men were trying to buy all of her younger sisters from her (I’m sure it was a seller’s market at the time). I wasn’t able to profit off my travelmates, but going to Tangier definitely made me appreciate Spain moreso, and America even more.

That’s my recap of this Moroccan paradise. So, next time you listen to Rock the Kasbah, remember my story and think of the urine smell.

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Bullfights

August 3, 2007

I love baseball. I love basketball. I will even sit through golf. I figured I would broaden my horizons and take in a Spanish bullfight. After all, it is one of the Spaniards’ favorite pasttimes, so I figured I would immerse myself in their culture. I was even so lucky to attend a bull fight with 3 of the most famous matadors in Spain… and it was on horseback, and you know what?

I fucking hated it. It was probably one of the most upsetting things I’ve witnessed. Each sword in the bull made me cringe a little more. For anyone reading this thinking, ‘Man, he’s a pussy,’ (1) fuck you very much and (2) you try watching this dehydrated, starved animal being toyed with and slaughtered and tell me how you feel.

The craziest part of it all… the Spanish cheer, they eat, they laugh, they drink, the guy next to me even farted a couple times (I think I caught him enjoying his own scent, too.) They love it. Props to them. For me, it was the first and last time I’ll ever be in attendance. It’s just not my bag.

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Sick as a Dog But Loving Life

August 3, 2007

I have really sucked at keeping this thing up. I’m either busy, exhausted or sick. I just got over a badass bug, but I’m feeling better now. I’m still going to take it easy this weekend. Last weekend, I was “volunteered” as the driver, so I drove for a good 8-10 hours of the weekend just trying to find where the hell we were going.

In Spain, they don’t have normal highways, they have roads and rotaries. I hate rotaries (or as some of you assholes call them, roundabouts). If you’ve ever seen National Lampoon’s European Vacation when Chevy Chase drives by Big Ben a hundred times, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I think the Spanish installed roundabouts every 1000 feet to fuck with foreigners’ heads. The best part… they put the directional signs about 50 feet away from the roundabout, so you have to rubberneck to see which turn you should take. Even then, you have to get in the correct lane (I’m still confused if it’s the right lane or the left lane). I used some “Boston Driving” passed down from my father and created my own roundabout rules. Sure, I was honked at a few times and some Spanish had the look of death, but I just smiled and kept driving.

So enough about roundabouts… I have seen some beautiful sites while I’ve been here. Last weekend we visited Ronda, which is a city built around a canyon. The sites were pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, after 3 hours of driving, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have and neither did my travel mates. After about an hour and a half of walking around the city, we took off for the beach (another 2 and a half hour adventure including shitloads of roundabouts and winding mountain roads)

We got to Tarifa, the southernmost city in continental Europe. Right when we got there, we noticed we were above the clouds, which seemed kind of weird. We pulled over and realized we were looking at a mountain in Africa. It was so close, it was amazing. I can’t really explain the feeling, but to be standing in Europe and look across the Straits of Gibraltar to see Africa is a pretty intense feeling. We snapped some sweet shots and moved on.

We ended up sleeping on the beach in a lifeguard stand. It sounds like it would be fun, but little did I know that Tarifa has 35 mph winds all the time. Needless to say, it was as cold as a witch’s titty, and then some. I was freezing my ass off! I managed about 30 minutes of sleep, but it was a good 30. We ended up just hanging out on the beach for the rest of the day, catching up on sleep and enjoying the view.

Pretty cool weekend overall. I’m pretty sure those shitty winds got me sick, but what can you do? At least I got to see Africa…