I went to Europe for three weeks in the beginning of the summer with my friend Albert and have yet to write about it, so here is a small (very) portion of the experience.
Since I was so busy with all the madness that accompanies graduating from college, I never really had a chance to prepare myself for this trip, beyond booking our hostels, flights, etc. We did some minor searches on the internet, but we decided we’d just go there and figure it out along the way. When we told people our age about the trip, they would tell us how awesome it would be and we were offered suggestions by people who had been there before. But our parents and anyone around their age assured us we would be robbed/raped/killed at least once, if not several times.
They made it seem like Europe was an anarchic, savage land where the natives ran around all day yielding guns and knives in broad day light, relieving Americans of their passports and calling cards. It wasn’t the fact they were warning us about getting robbed, that I could understand, as parents and elders generally are concerned about your safety; it was the specificity of the situations that we should avoid that was so alarming. We weren’t just being told to keep our eyes on our wallets, but to be aware of all around us, as any human interaction could be the first step in an orchestrated crime sequence. Here are the situations we were told to avoid:
1) If any relatively attractive girl comes up to you while in Europe, she is a probably a prostitute and/or planning to rob you. Although she might be an ordinary, pretty European woman, she is most likely the bait for a group of thieves and her job is to coerce you into putting your guard down by existing. Let’s say a pretty girl stands next to you and starts to read a newspaper and suddenly drops it. DO NOT HELP HER. As soon as you bend down to help her, you will somehow be robbed. Even though you have all of your belongings in a money case fastened across your chest and there’s no way someone could rob you without you knowing, it will absolutely happen.
2) If a European comes up to you and asks you to help them with their cell phone, do not do this. They have most likely injected some sort of toxin into their cell phone that will cause you to lose consciousness and they will proceed to rob the shit out of you.
3) If someone bumps into you accidentally while walking, they probably just robbed you. If you put your bag down at the airport, it will be taken. Even if you’re looking directly at your bag, the moment you blink it will be gone.
Although we were warned that the French were unnecessarily mean (nice World Cup guys), and in our experience most of them were (the man at the hotel was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met), I was more aware that they don’t care if you don’t speak their language, they’re going to talk to you. We were sitting in a train station cafe, and an older Frenchmen approached us. He started to speak French and we politely told him we were from America and had no idea what he was saying, which prompted him to talk to us more. He said “Washington D.C” and we told him we live close to there in Virginia, but he kept saying “No! Washington D.C?!” and became noticeably agitated.
Then he kept saying “Alabama” and making a snake motion with his arm, and the fact that we didn’t know what he was saying really pissed him off and he kept doing it, thinking the slower he did the motion and the louder he said Alabama would finally make us understand.
Oh right, Alabama! Thank you for saying it louder and making your arm’s snake impression more realistic. Now I suddenly understand French!
I don’t like soda and I don’t like carbonation unless it gets me drunk, but the farthest thing from that in Europe was orange Fanta, being that water is more expensive. You’d think they have some other flavors, but nope. Every where I went to eat: orange Fanta, orange Fanta, orange Fanta. I estimate I had 30 orange Fantas. F*** orange Fanta.