– 30 Points that Document the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fall Break 2009–
[Zürich, Amsterdam, Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest].
By: Andrea F. Pagliai
1. Miss a train to Zürich after mistaking the day for the time– damn military time.
2. Break your boot heel and your Dutch friend’s bike, after being told to simply, “hop on” the back and hold on.
3. Almost miss the Amsterdam–>Vienna train because you were sending postcards; with eight minutes to departure you are thus forced to sprint to the lockers, take out your bags, run to the platform, see (joy!) that it is still in the station, find your wagon, open the already closed door (two minutes left!), throw your bags in, and just when you think you’ve made it– you trip on the bottom step, causing you board the train face first, thus making you…
4. End up more bruised than you ever thought was physically possible.
5. Get stolen from (by bitch-ass Austrian girls) on the sleeper train from Amsterdam to Vienna. (Money from me, Valium from my travel buddy. Not sure which is worst.)
6. Have an alcoholic drink before noon…it’s 5pm somewhere! (When in Europe, it’s usually Hong Kong)!
7. Take out too much foreign currency (Hungarian Forints in our case) after not bothering to check the exchange rate.
8. Getting walked-in on at the Széchenyi Hungarian Bathhouse changing room by an old wrinkly man–while in a compromising position– after failing to realize that the door, actually DID have a lock after all.
9. Feeling like you beat the local transport system in Budapest by using an expired metro-pass (after being adamantly warned by a local not to), only to get busted on your last day by an unflinching check-point guard outside of the metro, and having to pay a 6000 Forint (25 Euros) fine, when you only had 5000 Forints left the rest of your half-day in the city.
10. Get bitched-out by a Hungarian dark witch working the bar at a place ironically called, “For Sale Pub,” when the customer service was the last thing that made you want to close escrow.
11. Get burned by an omelette pan in Vienna. People will ask you if it is a tattoo and you will have to boringly explain that, no–you just got burned from an omelette pan in Vienna.
12. Go on a four-hour fashion show shopping excursion in H&M on your last full day, thus wasting all the daylight and leaving you to explore Buda at night.
13. Average three pastries-a-day, eat dessert with at every meal (yes, dinner, lunch, AND breakfast), and thus gain an undisclosed– but pant unbuttoning-worthy– amount of weight.
14. Are told that the water is “not recommended for drinking” after having hydrated yourself on it already for three days running.
15. Misestimate menu prices, in conjunction with non-fully understanding the conversion rate, which cause you to splurge on two expensive soirées– instead of one, in the same day–leading you to drop $100 in the span of 6 hours.
16. Belatedly break into the soundtrack of “Sound of Music” in the streets of Budapest, instead of the streets of Salzburg, Austria.
17. Wash off dog poop in an Austrian town fountain with the help of twigs and leaves, but have no hand sanitizer at your disposal to make you feel better about it.
18. Order a cappuccino at the Budapest Keletí train station, only to see the “barista” tear open a packet of powdered cappuccino; add water and making YOU stir the not fully dissolved powder–and actually love it.
19. Have gastro-intestinal problems, which lead to a falling-out with the word frothy.
20. Find out what “BM” stands for, through an exchange with your doctor-father’s colleague, in an email, which is only one line, but contains lots of exclamation points. (!).
21. Flail around drunk through the streets of Budapest, celebrating what is in Europe an insignificant 21st Birthday, leaving you only to remember the night through pictures you don’t even remember taking.
22. Refuse to do a bike tour because SOMEONE in the group has a childhood fear of cycling.
23. Ask to take someone’s photograph and get denied.
24. “Get down” with the Danube.
25. Adopt a graze all day mentality, so as that you start factoring snacks into the daily itinerary.
26. Discover waist-skirts and “Michael Jackson Chic.”
27. Learn French in Hungary over wine.
28. Consistently climb medieval forts at twilight, no matter the country, because you find it adds to the “mystique.”
29. Make the Vienna –> Budapest train, only because it was delayed 20 minutes AND because you got a car ride from your couch-surfing host, but feel most pleased about the fact that you still have time to take out Euros and stock-up on beer, sausages, and apples.
30. Get hit on by a Peruvian man named Gustavo on the Vienna–> Salzburg train, in a carriage full of people as he sells you a bottle of 2.50 Euro water, which he doesn’t even bother to give you a discount on, leaving you to wonder why you put up with it in the first place.