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September 8, 2010

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.

Oh you don’t speak French? I’m going to talk to you anyway.

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!

F***  orange Fanta

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.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 7:49 pm

    ok i found you on 20 something bloggers, or rather you found me, and i DID go on your site and i MAY be moderately interested in your commentaries so i went on your profile to reply back to your message to me. then i saw all the other people who you gave the whole “awesome blog! check out mine!” shpeal too so that turned me off. self-promotion is good and it worked since i did see your blog and i do like it enough so i’ll just leave a comment here.

  2. Ramblings of a Singleton permalink
    September 8, 2010 8:27 pm

    It’s interesting to see what warnings American parents give their kids. To be honest, European warnings are pretty similar and, a bit like the take on the French, very stereotypical, i.e. All Americans are loud!

    • September 8, 2010 8:35 pm

      A lot of the people who we talked to in France were nice, but a great deal were very rude and for no reason. We did notice other Americans we saw were loud as shit; it’s funny you said that!

  3. September 8, 2010 8:47 pm

    Uhh hi you’re hilarious! I love how much your parents tried scaring you with traveling to Europe! Sounds just like something my parents would do to me!

  4. September 9, 2010 1:19 am

    Your shameless self promotion on 20something bloggers paid off….your blog is appealing to me (but shame on you for spamming newbies such as myself). As for Europe, Americans watch too many movies – as far as we’re concerned, all Europeans are sex-crazed, criminally-minded, chain smokers.

  5. September 9, 2010 7:03 pm

    Hilarious :)

    When we were looking at places to go on our honeymoon, both sets of parents and anyone over the age of 40 were all totally suspicious of travel outside of the 48 continental United States. And thinking about places like Greece and Turkey… you’d think we had suggested the mountains of Pakistan or something. We’re going to Mexico, so they have some time to read about the drug wars there and get nice and worked up.

  6. September 10, 2010 10:54 am


    I thought your blog post was funny. Being from the UK (in Europe) we are also warned of the same things when visiting America :)

    Hope you enjoyed your trip.

    p.s. Just been to my local shop and FYI we had more than orange fanta lol ;)

  7. September 11, 2010 4:56 pm

    Great post. Sounds like people think Europe is scary. Though now I have the Fanta song in my head so maybe it is.

  8. cookie monster permalink
    September 19, 2010 2:20 am

    i was at the greyhound bus station in washington, dc recently and if you’ve ever been there you would believe that america is full of criminals who were out to get you. i did overhear people giving some eastern european kids at the station that same advice. i did feel badly for them because that place is really scary.

  9. September 23, 2010 9:52 am

    Very funny post, Michael. I feel I can personally appreciate this one since living in France presents one hysterical episode after another. I need to start carrying around a notebook and writing down all the things I hear/see…and you are absolutely right about being aware of scams and theft. Someone bumped into me in the metro in Madrid and I looked down at my wallet (which was embarrassingly “safe” in a little pack attached under my shirt) and the guy’s dirty hand was on it. I slapped him. He let go.

  10. September 28, 2010 1:37 am

    HA your post is so true. I got the same talk from my university and everybody I knew before I spent a semester abroad in Italy. EVERYBODY IS GOING TO ROB YOU!!! Unfortunately, they were slightly right. A bunch of people in my study abroad group got robbed, whether they were mugged on the street or their apartments were broken into. I don’t know how I lucked out. To this day, I’m still in the habit of clutching onto my purse when I’m in a crowded place. Thank you, Europe! Still doesn’t make me miss it any less, though :(

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