Scotland pt. 23

Everyone report to the dance floor, because this is the long-awaited FINAL INSTALLMENT of my MAGNUM OPUS, aka Scot-Trot 2018, #SweaterWeather, #MakeTheMostOfIt, #Charades.  Please leave your comments below, let me know how this blog has changed YOUR outlook on travel.  I get tons of fan emails, all the time: people asking me how they can do what I do, telling me how funny the blog is, how they think it’s so great that I detail every day whether something interesting happened or not, so if you’re one of the few who hasn’t yet, don’t be shy, dive in!  Water’s great!  And to the rest of you out there in Steve Nation, Keep On Travelin’! #KeepOnTravelin

When we left off in the last riveting post, me, Rich, and Laura were watching episode 1 of American Vandal at Laura’s London flat.  American Vandal – great show.  Comment below on your thoughts on Season 2!

In the morning, we met our UVA friends Jamie and Stephanie for brunch.  Stephanie is just a regular boring American, but Jaime is British and has the world’s most posh accent; everything he says sounds both really thoughtful and really condescending.  Since Laura didn’t pick the restaurant, we had our first actual good meal of the entire trip, after 7 days of travel.  Jaime – classic Jaime – asserted at one point that any big city was bound to have good food in it, so if anyone traveling didn’t eat quality food, it was their own fault.

To recap, we’d so far eaten: McDonalds, fried pizza, fish and chips, a grocery store frozen Chinese sampler platter, frozen pizza,  fish and chips again, haggis (which sucks), Taco Bell, and train ham rolls.  And it’s not like I just don’t care; Eating good regional food is like #3 priority for me when I’m traveling (#1, dope pics, #2, travel blog experiences).  We had an auspicious start in the Turkish lounge at Dulles International Airport, but it was downhill from there.

Following brunch, Laura suggested we all grab a pint, since I guess the day was starting to go a bit too on-track for her comfort.  One turned into three, as it does, and all the sudden it was 4 o’clock, and we had like, 2 hours of daylight left.  And we’d seen, let’s see, absolutely fucking nothing in London.

We quickly went to see what we could, namely a couple monuments and the London Bridge.

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You can tell it’s London cuz of all the rain

That was it for touristy stuff!  Then we dealt with some more of that nitty-gritty logistics that keeps the all my readers coming back for more.

We’d booked an Air BNB downtown, since Laura’s roommate was getting back that night and didn’t want us to stay there because she’s I guess a total fucking bitch or something.  We got a message from the dude who owned it who we joyously discovered went by “Butt.”

Butt

We realized that we could just stay with Jaime instead, so we tried to cancel with Butt, but he wouldn’t budge (a real Butthole).  We ended up deciding to stay at Jaime’s anyway, because it made more sense, and chalked Butt up to a sunk cost.  So we went back to Laura’s to grab our bags, which was like an hour away by subway.  That was annoying, but it did let me grab some shots of first-time traveler Rich bumbling his way through the foreign ticket machine:

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Dum de dum

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Why are these machines so low to the ground?

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Hey guys give me a minute, these machines are just impossible!

This whole trip to pass the time we’d been playing this phone game called Piccolo.  If you haven’t played Piccolo, I would strongly recommend it.  It just gives a bunch of truth or dare/drinking challenges to each player, which are mostly benign stuff.  UNLESS, that is, you pay $5 to download Caliente mode, which ramps the game up to a fun raunchy, adventurous level, and then blows right past that to get to a bunch of stuff that is absolutely bonkers for casual pregaming and really only has a place in like, a sex-charged high school band trip.

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Just fun casual drinking game for friends

So naturally this was the only way we played it, though we ended up skipping half of them.   At dinner (at some shitty tavern chain, back to mediocre food for us), we heard the table behind us, 3 people in their 20s, playing Piccolo.  We told them about Caliente mode and they ended up joining us for a light round of extremely personal questions and dares written by and for horny 10th graders.  It was a great way to break the ice and get to know some real locals.

After that, Laura went to work, me and Rich went to Jaime’s, and then we hit the town!  Just kidding, we hung out with Jaime talking about DJ’ing and then went to bed, bringing us hot into Day 8, the final day of the trip.

Rich and I met up with Laura, who made us try this UK fast-food chain called Greggs, which she’d been raving about the whole time.  I would put it about on par with, like, if 7-11 had a standalone hot food outlet.  It was about that level of quality.  That’s about what I was expecting, but you know what, it was the last day, why change things up now.

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Imagine piping hot Dinty Moore Beef Stew wrapped in a bun that’s 90% grease

We were flying out that afternoon, so we were down to the wire, so like all good procrastinators, we crammed in everything at the last minute.  We were up at 7:30, downtown by 9, and we saw all the big hits: Big Ben, Parliament, The London Eye, and Buckingham Palace.

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With some solid DSLR selfie work along the way

Big Ben, the most iconic and coolest thing and honestly the only one really worth seeing, was under construction until 2019.

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That’s it there in the background, behind this ginger woman smelling a fart

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My response to this setback was to bitch about it the whole time, up to and including right now

Then we ate Shake Shack for lunch, which Laura until this point legitimately thought was native to London, and went home!

BOOM!  That’s it, baby!  Man, seems like just yesterday me and Rich were almost missing our flight at Dulles airport, doesn’t it?  Crazy how fast 8 days of travel can pass when it’s told in a self-effacing blog, 1 day at a time,  with installments 2-8 weeks apart.

At the end of this journey, I just want to thank you, the reader.  My massive and exponentially growing base of loyal followers is not just exploding by the day and reaching an exceptionally high level of engagement; you’re also the reason I do this. It’s not the ad revenue, it’s not the fame, it’s not the book deal that’s coming any day now.  It’s the fans.  So thanks for being a fan, and as always, Keep On Travelin’.

Keep On Travelin’,

Steve

#KeepOnTravelin’

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SLAM roll credits

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Written and Directed by ME

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Starring ME

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Special Thanks to ME

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Original Music by ME

 

Scotland Pt. 5, AKA England Pt. 1

What up world, time to get off your tenterhooks because the update to the Scotland travel saga is HERE, along with the answers to all your burning questions.  Will we turn our trip around and start actually doing things?  Will Rich get more souvenirs?  Will my sweater continue to cost $400?  Stay tuned to find out!  If you can handle it, you fuckin’ pussy.

Getting up Saturday, it was time to say goodbye to Scotland.  Laura had to work a night shift that night at her shitty news job in London, so we were going to relocate to L-don and enjoy half of Saturday, Sunday, and half of Monday in Great Britain’s biggest (and only) city.

The plan was simple enough – catch a bus from Glasgow back to Edinburgh, then a train from there to London.  It was about a 5 hour train ride, and our bus left at 12, so that would put us in London by 6 or 7, enough time to grab dinner with some other college friends, and then for me and Rich to finally ditch Laura and party with just us boys!!

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Not pictured: dead weight

We started off great.  Out of nothing more than pure laziness, we missed the first bus to Edinburgh, and had to catch a bus that got us there like, 5 minutes before our train left.  This nicely ratcheted the day from leisurely travel to mega-stressful, before we’d even had breakfast.  When we got to the bus station, there was a big line already forming for the bus to Edinburgh, long enough that where we weren’t sure we’d make it on (it was a first-come, first-served situation – I was all too ready to be done with this kind of lawless savagery that permeated this country).

Laura, ever resourceful, took it upon herself to spout a sob story to the people at the front of the line in order to allow us to cut some 60 travelers.  Laura inexplicably told them we had a flight to London we might miss, because I guess the actual reason of having a train to London we might miss just wasn’t compelling enough.  Rich and I stood there, wholly uncomfortable with the amorality of it all, but going along with it.  Like Nazis.

So we spent a very stressful, breakfast-less 1 hour bus ride to Edinburgh wondering if we were going to make our train.  Also, because Rich and I had waited to buy our train tickets, the only ones remaining were first class, so we had to spent 80 Euros ($100 in real money), as opposed to the like, 40 Euros we’d been promised.  So it was more expensive than our flight from London had been.

Then about 15 minutes before our bus got there, we learned our train had been canceled.

We had about 1.5 hours until the next train, so we grabbed some shitty fish and chips and, of course, a few beers.  Then we headed to the train station, where we learned that the train was delayed!  Great!

We grabbed a few more beers and sat around waiting for an indeterminate amount of time, passing the time by drinking in secret.

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No beers in sight.  Take notes, nerds

The train finally arrived a fucking hour later, by which time masses of irate Brits and Scots had arrived.

We get on, and we’re on this packed-ass standing room only train, and after 30 minutes the conductor comes on to tell us there’s some bullshit line work up ahead, and now this train would be additionally delayed by anywhere between 30 minutes and TWO HOURS.  We had a connecting train to catch with about 20 minutes of wiggle room, and there was no train to London after it tonight.

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Need I remind you I had a FIRST-CLASS ticket

So at this point, we started to come to grips with the fact that we were, in all likelihood, not making it to London tonight, and would be spending the night in some random-ass podunk Scotland town, likely getting hammered and playing charades.

The stuffy fart-tube finally arrived at some station a couple of hours later at a station called Lockerbie, where there was the possibility of a transfer to London, though it was all somehow very vague and uncertain, despite ostensibly up-to-date schedules at our fingertips.  Everyone on the train was also headed to London, and nobody knew what was going on.  Everyone got off, and then the conductor yelled out the window “Oy! If you want to go to London,  get back on this train and transfer at the next stop.”  About half the people got back on, and the rest, including us – fucking rebels – decided we knew better, and stayed.

The train pulls out, and there’s this strange moment in which we and a handful of strangers realize that we’re all stranded together in the middle of nowhere, in the cold, as dark is setting in, banking on the very uncertain possibility of a train to London.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, this stout-ass train station employee comes and tells us all that the next train coming through would be going to London.

The train approached, and everyone grabbed their bags.  The train approaches, doesn’t slow down, and blows right the fuck by.   And the fucking stout train lady was nowhere to be seen.

So now we’re all starting to feel pretty royally fucked.  But there’s really nothing for us to do except keep waiting.  I honestly have no idea how there was this much uncertainty; I blame either Laura for not figuring it out, or Scotland at large for not having its shit together.  Probably the guy who was supposed to make the mobile train page was stuffing his face with a deep-fried pizza at the time, and his greasy fingers slipped all over the screen until he gave up.

After another 30 minutes, another train pulls in and we all wait with baited breath, watching until we see the sign saying the destination: LONDON! Woooo!!!! SUCK it dickhead train conductor, you don’t know fuck-all about what trains are doing what!  Shut up and drive the train, dipshit, leave the routing to the people with brains!

Our luck was changing fast.  This train wasn’t packed, so first class seats were actually available for me and Rich.  Finally, we would be traveling at the level of comfort to which we were accustomed.  Laura, dirty little liar that she is, sweet-talked the hapless ticket man while he punched her fare, successfully keeping him from realizing that she was nothing more than a low-class pauper, stowing away with Rich and me.

We also learned that the railway policy was to refund any tickets that had been delayed by over 1.5 hours.  So those 80 Euro first class tickets?  100% free, baby!

So now it was time to kick back and enjoy 3 hours of true first class travel to London, complete with 2 free coffees and a shitty ham roll!  Our day had really turned around.  Even though we would now be getting to our destination about 6 hours later than anticipated.

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Now this is a vacation

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Portrait of a first-class gentleman

The train ride ended up being really fun, because we were all so relieved and in general disbelief at the roller coaster of travel issues we’d had that day.  Really full of highs and lows, but all ended up ok, with us pounding brews and ham rolls, secure in the knowledge that we were traveling in first class like we deserved.  It was just like a Disney movie.

We pulled into London around 11 pm, and then took a the London Underground about an hour to the shitty part of town that Laura lived in.  It was another 20 minute walk from the subway station to Laura’s “flat” (Brits and their wacky vernacular), so instead of hitting the town like we thought we would, we just watched tv and went to bed.

Another successful day traveling the world!

Scotland Pt. 4

Yo yo yo, Scotland Part 4 (of 20) coming in hot!

Me, Rich, Laura, and Chris (Laura’s boyfriend) got up on Friday morning in Glasgow with ambitious plans: we were going to go on a big day trip all up north of Glasgow, to see the sights: Loch Lomond, Kilchurn Castle, and a bunch of other bullshit I can’t remember.  We may have wasted a bit of time on the trip thus far, but today was the day we made up for it all.  We got up bright and early (noon), still recovering from our wild night of charades, got in the car, and hit the road!

We headed into town to see the University of Glasgow, one of the only nice parts of the city.  Edinburgh is like the nice, historic, cultural city, and Glasgow is like the modern, industrial, bland-looking-as-fuck city.  Once we made it downtown, though, we learned that our car had a flat tire.  Turns out, Laura’s boyfriend Chris had popped the tire the night prior, when he slammed the curb while executing what was really an wildly over-aggressive parallel parking job.  So before we went anywhere, he had to go get the tire repaired.  Solid start to the day!

Idk what we did while we waited but whatever it was, it was forgettable.  We somehow didn’t end up seeing University of Glasgow.  As far as I remember we just walked downtown, which took like an hour.  Laura ran into a glass door while getting coffee from a convenience store.  I don’t even have any good pictures because Glasgow sucks so much dick.

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In the background there, you can see the city of Glasgow sucking a big dick

Ok so around probably like 2 we finally packed into the car and started cruising on up to stop #1, Loch Lomond.  Finally, I was going to get some DOPE shots of the beautiful Scottish countryside, which was the biggest draw for this trip for me (besides the brew and the fuckin’ A-grade TANG, obviously).  If I could do that, see Skyfall, salute the statue of Abraham Lincoln, and go to McDonald’s, I would call the trip a success.

However, this idiot forgot his nice camera that day, so literally I have no pictures of the countryside except the garbage I took with my phone.

The Quiraing

Google Image result for “Scottish Countryside”

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What I took

Literally the one day of the trip where I actually saw cool sights and I forget my camera.  I know 90% of you are only here for the high-quality travel photos I take with my (entry-level) DSLR, so, to the approximately 900,000 readers I’ve disappointed, I’m truly sorry.

Our first stop was a place called Kilchurn Castle, about 2 hours north of Glasgow by car.  Along the way we were to drive along Loch Lomond (Scottish for Lake Lomond), which really did have some nice views, none of which are pictured here, because Public Dipshit #1 here behind the keyboard forgot his fucking camera, along with his BRAIN I guess back in America,  NICE JOB STEVE!  Good thing you remembered your STUPID SWEATER!  Couldn’t bring the GODDAMN CAMERA on the ONE DAY YOU NEEDED IT!   Really gonna make your blog POP with all this GRAINY IPHONE LOW-CONTRAST COMMON-MAN GARBAGE!

After about an hour of driving, we ran into a miles-long traffic jam, due to an accident blocking the one 2-lane road adjacent to Loch Lomond.   We had to turn around and backtrack to an alternate route, losing us another hour.  That’s cool, though, cuz as I’ve made clear, we’d gotten up early enough to account for delays like this.  Everyone was in really high spirits, and me and Rich were really appreciative of Laura’s hard work to get us out to see Scotland.

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Along the way we passed a brewery, and Laura insisted we stop (I know, pretty out of character for her), so now around maybe 4 pm we, still having done, literally nothing that day, took a break to relax and grab a pint.

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Oh should we stop here?  Sure, all we got is time!

We did get some dope shots though:

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Dope

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Double dope

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Dope x3; Rich, true brew lover, sighting the color of his beer against the sunlight

It actually was a super cool place, out in the middle of nowhere, with some nice views, this family-owned farm sort of feel, it was really nice.  They had these meat pies which, man, I only had one bite, but it gave the McNugget a run for it’s money.  They had this funny old retired sheepdog which kept circling our table like we were sheep (and for some people, it would’ve been right. WAKE UP).  We also discovered that my nose was making this super odd squeaking sound whenever I sniffed, which cracked us up for a solid 10 minutes.

So afterwards, around 4 or 5, we hit the road, back towards Kilchurn Castle, which, I want to emphasize, was our first stop for the day.  Along the way we make a quick pit stop at a local town called Invergordon to walk around and snap a couple photos:

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We were really on point with our sweater color coordination that day

We were also feeling a little parched, so we topped up on some tall boy Buds, and took the opportunity to check out Scottish fashion:

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Yo what up here’s 2 fingers that have never felt a vagina

Then we headed out and finally made it to Kilchurn Castle, by a brisk 7 pm Finally at our first stop, barely before it was dark outside!  Really, once again, just making the absolute most of our limited time in Scotland.   One tourist destination per day is, I think, just right.   A lot of people overload their itineraries – big mistake.  You have to take the time to appreciate the little things, and get enough sleep, and play a sufficient amount of charades.  That’s a little travel expert freebie from your pal Steve.

We did at least manage to do what we do best and snag some dope pics:

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Represent

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Laura teaching us how to pose for Instagram.  Taken with a Google Pixel, really a great camera on that phone.

By the time we wrapped up the photo shoot, it was getting dark, so we figured we’d call it a day.  We started the 2 hour drive back to Glasgow while we pounded tall boys and listened to Eminem.  When we got back, Laura and Chris got dinner from the supermarket, which consisted of pizza, a chinese food sampler, a set of dips, fried cheese balls, and more Bud Light.  None of this was meant to be a joke – this was just the product of Laura and Chris legitimately deciding, out of an entire grocery store’s worth of choices, what would make the best dinner.  Scottish people are the most abjectly unashamed fried food eaters on the planet.

We tried really hard to get drunk but we were all full on shitty fried food, and all we had was Bud Light, so eventually we just gave up and went to this club called Garage to check out Glasgow’s famed nightlife (it really is supposed to be good).  Laura spent $40 on a round for everyone like a fucking idiot, and then we hit the dance floor, and this is where it gets good people cuz literally right as we hit the dance floor, Lose Yourself came on, and for those of you who don’t know, Lose Yourself is your boy’s fuckin’ JAM.  This DJ was on fire too, because he followed that banger up with In Da Club, another hit, and we just tore up the dance floor after that.  Glasgow’s night life was living up to the HYPE!

Not to brag, but I totally impressed this random Scottish girl with my dope moves, and we totally MADE OUT and yeah it was MEGA HOT.  Rich, Laura, and Chris left me behind to get with her, which I totally did, and by “get with her” I mean she went and got fries with her friends, and I left about 5 minutes later.

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Haha sick

It was at this point I realized that not only was my phone dead, but I also definitely did not know Chris’ address.  I had literally no way of getting back or of contacting my friends.  I got a cab, and he didn’t take cards, so I asked to stop at an ATM, and he said sure and dropped me off, and then he just fucking left.

Situations like this always make me realize how stupid it is to rely so wholly on my cell phone when I’m traveling abroad.  It’s such a single point of failure.  The same thing happened to me on my trip to Italy (upcoming blog post dropping in 2023).  I obviously did not learn at all from past mistakes, though.

I got another cab and idk I guess I somehow managed to guess the address.  I honestly don’t know how I made it back.  Fun fact, my driver knew Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, my favorite band!  Wow!

I got back to find Rich, Laura, and Chris eating Taco Bell.  They had gone to the only Taco Bell in all of Glasgow.

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Rich made it to his #1 destination

Rich’s order number, by some act of the Founding Fathers, came out to 1776:

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They are watching over us

We stayed up for a few more hours watching Robyn music videos on Youtube.  We must’ve really gotten crazy, because Chris’ downstairs neighbors came up to ask us to keep it down.  Sorry guys, just showing each other our favorite Youtube videos at 5 in the morning!

So that’s what happened on the most productive day of our trip.  Literally the best day of our trip in terms of touristy things accomplished, and we did one thing.  It was, honestly, really fun though.

Next time: we go to London, and everything goes great!

Scotland Pt. 3

Ok gang, for the 3 of you still hanging in there for new blog posts (jk my following is growing exponentially, make sure you share my blog NOW, while you can still claim to have gotten in before it was big), here’s part 3 of my trip to Scotland.   If you missed the first 2, here’s a brief recap:

-Me and Rich flew to Scotland and met up with our Scottish friend Laura

-We got drunk all day

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And a local street urchin took this totally candid shot!

Yeah hm that’s all that’s happened, in 2 whole posts.  This blog is like a really well-crafted, detailed TV show.  Like it’s not about the plot, it’s about this highly curated, engrossing, transportative experience.

Ok right so we got up the next day after all 3 of us sleeping crowded together in Laura’s childhood bed.  Laura’s mom made us a class Scottish breakfast which was fried eggs, fried bacon, fried sausages, black pudding which is like fried pigs blood, fried mushrooms, and a few other fried things.  I don’t remember much about this breakfast but I did write a note in my journal, which says “Laura Mom breakfast (bad).”

Laura’s mom, who’s retired, drove the 3 of us around to some sightseeing in Edinburgh.  We saw Rosslyn Chapel from the gates because we were all too cheap to buy a ticket, then walked around some little town where we found this authentic phone booth:

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This was almost as cool as the double-decker bus!

I felt kind of sick from the night before and mostly just wanted to take a shit.  Laura fed me some god-awful Scottish candy while we walked around in the rain and looked at some bridges and had her mom take photos of us.

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Right to left: guitarist, model, constipated

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Everyone’s having a great time

This great trip was capped off with a visit to Blackness Castle.  During the half mile walk from the car, it started raining super hard, so after we got to the castle we promptly turned around and walked back in a pelting downpour:

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We’re being pelted by sideways rain in this picture

That night, Laura treated us to yet more of Scotland’s finest cuisine, aka some shitty late night place to get deep-fried pizza and chicken nuggets.  I’m pretty sure Scottish people basically just ate fatty fried food for every single meal, like Americans without guilt or fitness trends or Tender Greens.  Afterwards, we went to a bar that just happened to be having Ceilidh, which is the Scottish square dance Laura had tried to take us to the night prior.  Laura was super excited, I think because she felt like she’d finally taken us to something in Scotland that was actually like, culturally Scottish.  It was pretty fun; it was mainly a bunch of drunk tourists not listening to the instructions and fucking it all up, but I can see why people would seek it out, before grinding was an option.

The next day, Thursday, (Day 3 of the trip) Laura had an interview, so me and Rich made the most of the day, by sleeping until noon.  But we seized the day around 1 pm to check out Edinburgh Castle, which was cool.  Rich, naive tourist, outside the U.S. for the first time, shelled out $18 for the shitty tour booklet, and also bought himself a cool snowglobe and a teddy bear.

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Just another sucker tourist

We felt we’d had a pretty full day after that, so we got coffee.  And there, me and Rich found out it was our Facebook 10-year friend-versary!  Best part of the trip, honestly, was just sharing this milestone of friendship with my good buddy Rich.   We’ve been friends since first year of college, and boy, have we had some times!  But that’s another story, for another blog.

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Be sure to check out my new blog, Steve Relives College Forever!

After celebrating, we went to get haggis, a classic Scottish dish made of mashed potatoes and, like, minced sheep organs, which sounds gross but is actually just super bland.  Me and Rich did get some great artistic shots for one another’s Tinders, though:

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27, Travel Blogger, $400 sweater

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6’4, great smile, lots of souvenirs

Laura finally got back into town at 5:30, and now she was hungry (provides a lot of problems rather than solutions, for a country guide, doesn’t she?) so we went to another Scottish standby, McDonalds, where we had what was, honestly, one of the best meals of the whole trip:

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After that we went to Edinburgh’s #1 tourist destination: a statue of America’s own Abe Lincoln, where I was able to pay my respects to an American hero:

 

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Then we went to the top of some hill where we actually did get some really exceptional shots.

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On the way back I finally I actually did get this one good shot of Edinburgh, which Laura two days later stole from me and posted on her Instagram, as if she hasn’t lived there for her entire fucking life:

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Photo credit: fucking me

That night we took a bus to Glasgow, which we were to use as a jumping-off point for sightseeing around there.  We made the bus with about 30 seconds to spare (we’d been busy playing about 3 hours of charades), and met up with Laura’s English boyfriend, Chris, whose apartment we were staying at.  We stayed up till 4 am playing fishbowl.  Really good use of our time.

So for those keeping track at home, here’s our trip so far

Day 1 (Tuesday): arrived, drank and walked around Edinburgh

Day 2 (Wednesday): Went to castles and sightseeing stuff with Laura’s mom (actually good touristy day)

Day 3 (Thursday): Went to Edinburgh castle, ate Mcdonalds, had a friend-versary, played charades for a combined total of like 9 hours

It was a good thing Rich was traveling with me and Laura, two seasoned travelers, or he probably would have made rookie mistakes that kept him from making the most of his time.

See you next time!

Scotland Pt. 2

Ayo it’s ur boy Steve, comin at u hot from my couch at 9 PM, being myself, living my truth, taking life 1 day at a time.  No haters, no bullshit, no negativity, just me, positive thoughts, good vibes. Follow me on IG @stephenrusl, hmu on Gchat (stephenrusl@gmail).

Scotland Pt. 1 Recap: Me and my pal Rich (if you want to go on my next travel adventure with me, tweet at ur favorite blogger (me) with a link to ur favorite blog (mine) to be entered in the sweepstakes) had a really great time in the Turkish Lounge and nearly missed our flight and then at the end landed in Scotland, which was pretty boring compared to the flight there but I’ll go through it anyway I guess.

Due to time zones, it was only around 1 pm when we landed in Edinburgh (FYI, Scottish people all pronounce this Edin-boro.  The reason for this is really interesting – it’s because Scottish people are fucking stupid), so we had plenty of time to enjoy the city with our host/tour guide, Laura, pictured below.

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Oh right em, this dog’s name is Chippy! And people rub its nose for, em, good luck, or something, and em ah fuck it let’s grab a pint

Laura’s mom picked us up from the airport and took us to Laura’s childhood home, which was maybe 30 minutes from downtown E-burgh.  After we dropped off our stuff, Laura took us into the city on a DOUBLE-DECKER BUS.  This was the coolest part of the whole trip, second only to the Turkish Lounge – me and Rich sat on the top floor, right at the FRONT.  It was like we were flying through the streets!

Once we got there, we knew we had to make the most of our time and hit the ground running.  So first things first, Laura took us to a bar to have a drink.  Literally our first stop.  Not an historic one, or anything, but just some like, chain bar, like a Scottish Buffalo Wild Wings.    After about 3 drinks there, Laura, ever the host, wanted to make us feel at home, so she callously cut the line at a convenience store to buy us a 6-pack of tall boy Buds, and gave us a walking tour of the Old Town while we enjoyed America’s finest export:

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Bus Boys

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Things you can only do in Scotland

Old Town Edinburgh was pretty cool.  It’s got all these alleys (Called a “Close”-Scottish people have all these CRAZY words) and little nooks, and it was built in two levels, one for the poor, and one for the people with lounge access, so you can take stairs down to a street right under the one you’re on, which is cool.  Also, there’s some neat stuff in some of those alleys:

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It’s like they knew I was coming

While we walked around, Laura was sure to take us to all the oldest, most authentic local-secret spots in town, like the Frankenstein Bar.  Laura told us how cool this place was, a real hidden gem.   Picture this: a bar with a life-sized FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER statue at the front.  Whoa!  Scotland is awesome!  How could this trip get any better?

 

We spent a few hours going from bar to bar; Rich and Laura compared IPAs while ordering me my preferred drink, a nice cocktail called a Woo-woo, which is I believe a mixture of vodka, peach schnapps, and about a half-scoop of Hawaiian Punch mix.  Laura had Portrait mode on her phone, so I was able to take some great travel shots for my Tinder.

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Taken with an iPhone 7

After a few hours we were pretty hammered.  We got fish and chips, which was awesome, and Laura tried to take us to a ceilidh (Kay-lee), which is like a Scottish hoe-down, but I guess she isn’t very highly ranked in Scotland because she couldn’t get us in.  So we just went to regular bars and did exactly what we would’ve done in America.

We did get to talk to a local – Paul, who was about 42, was at this pub on a Tuesday,  as he probably was every day, with his wife.  Paul was fun because he was impossible to understand.  Me and Rich talked to him for probably an hour, catching mostly the gist of what he was saying through his super thick accent.   We did manage to learn that he, like us, loved the epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time (currently being adapted into a TV series by Amazon), and we also talked about Youporn, which was his favorite porn site.  Turns out, people from other countries are just like you and me!

We walked home at around 3 am – no double-decker buses were running anymore, so we walked for like a fucking hour with Laura telling us over and over that it was just 5 more minutes – and went to bed.  It was easy to sleep knowing we’d already done so much in Scotland and made so much out of our trip, and that we had way more to look forward to with Laura as our trusty guide.

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Uh yeah em so right what do you guys want to do?

God is this blog invigorating or what, one 7 day trip told a day at a time over the course of about 18 months.  Be sure to share this on your social media and tell all your friends!  When I leverage my blog into a bestselling book you will be able to say “I made that happen.”

 

 

Scotland Pt. 1 (of 24)

GUESS WHO’S BACK, BABY!?? You all thought I was out of the game, well, guess again, fuckheads! I’ve just been saving up for 10 months to lull the blogosphere into a false sense of security, and now, just when they least expect it – BLAM!

People tell me all the time that my intros are their favorite part of these blogs, but I’ve got a lot to get to today so I’m just gonna jump right in.

My last blog post was about day like 5 of a 14 day trip through Eastern Europe that I took, um, basically a million years ago at this point.  I’m gonna skip all the rest of that so I can write about something that happened just 2 weeks ago; sorry to all my invested, loyal readers.

My buddy and #1 blog fan Rich (hey Rich) and I went to visit our Scottish friend Laura for a week in her home of Scotland.  You may remember Laura from the last blog post, in Slovenia, where we visited Lake Bled and drank all day instead of doing anything.

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You may remember this picture from my last blog post, back in March

I’m happy to say that this time, we learned from our past mistakes.  We limited our drinking, planned out a thorough itinerary, and really made the most of our time in Scotland.

Psych we got totally fuckin’ LIT babyyyyyy!!!!!!

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A rare shot of us 2 frat stars in the half-second before we drained our beers 

It was Rich’s first time leaving the country, so he was pretty nervous, but he was obviously comforted by the fact that he was with such an experienced traveler as myself.  I told him not to worry – I’d show him all the ropes.   He was such a bumbling and naive guy – it reminded me of my first time traveling!

 

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Always stopping for souvenirs!

Rich had lounge access from his credit card (hey, not bad for a noob), so we got there like 2 hours early just to chill in Dulles Airport’s “Turkish Lounge” next to our gate which turned out to be dope as fuck.

They had this buffet with just like perfectly cooked chicken and some pita and hummus and like this rice dish and desserts and it was just fuckin’ awesome.  And a free bar!!  Is this how rich people travel??  Finally, I was an affluent traveling gentleman, like I’ve always been meant to be.

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Perhaps you would like to join me in the Turkish Lounge, ladies?

We just kicked back, charged our phones, used the wifi, ate and drank as much as possible, and just thought about how there were thousands of commoners outside, just pathetic wretches, sitting in uncomfortable chairs with $8 Whoppers, dripping mayoey lettuce into their laps.  Fuck those people.

Around boarding time, Rich and I finished our drinks, grabbed our bags, and leisurely strolled over to the gate.  As we approached, we noticed the gate looked a little empty.  Huh, that’s weird.  Then we heard over the loudspeaker, “Last call for boarding for passengers Richard Tyson and Stephen Flowers for Primera Air Flight 2280 to London…”  OH SHIT.  We got to the gate and saw there was absolutely nobody else waiting to board.

What happened?  Tune in for part 2/24 to find out…

 

 

Jk lol.  Luckily they hadn’t closed the gate yet, and we made it on the flight.  Turns out the flight had been moved earlier, which I didn’t even know was possible, and the announcements weren’t being broadcast in our lounge.  We were honestly probably within a couple minutes of missing our flight, despite having gotten through security like 2 hours early, because we’d been living it up in the Turkish Lounge.  The airline, Primera, only has flights from DC to London twice a week.  We would’ve been totally fucked; we may have ended up cancelling our trip.

As it was, though, we kicked it in the lounge till the last minute and waltzed onto the flight with no wait like a bunch of fuckin’ ballers.  Thanks for waiting, you dirty destitute peasants!

Primera Airlines was at the time offering a flight from DC to London for just $120, which obviously was fucking insane.  Of course, I did get charged $24 for both my carry-on and my backpack, which, I guess maybe I should have checked the baggage guidelines.

Anyway the flight was fine, we landed in London the next morning with a 3-hour layover.  We were flying RyanAir, another discount airline, to Edinburgh.  This is where I encountered a second problem.

I hadn’t previously checked in online, and it turns out that with RyanAir, if you don’t check in in online, you have to wait in the Customer Service line with all the irate customers who had missed their connections.  What the…I’m a member of the Turkish Club!  Who did they think they were dealing with!?

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Just like that, my life had been turned upside down

I figured I’d just get on the wifi and just check in on my phone.   I came to find out that the ticketing service I’d used (Kiwi.com) didn’t allow online check in within 24 hours of the flight.  So I ended up waiting in this line for an hour while Rich waited.  Surrounded by common riffraff.

When I got up there, I told them I was there to check in, and the lady tells me there’s a 55 pound penalty fee for in-person check-in.   That’s about $72 in real money.  $72 to print my fucking ticket for a flight I’d already paid for.  And just to kick me while I’m down, they called it a penalty fee, as if to say “well, this is what you get for not checking in online, it’s your own fault, you should have thought ahead, Steve, aren’t you supposed to be an experienced traveler?”  Fucking motherfucking cocksucker pieces of shit at this point the costs in unanticipated fees ($48 for bags and $72 to check in) was equal to the cost of my original plane ticket.

Rich later happened upon a newspaper article that said RyanAir got 28% of its income from its extortionist fees:

 

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Fuck RyanAir, fuck Kiwi.com, fuck Primera Air, fuck London, this trip was fuckin’ bullshit.

Anyway we met up with Laura at that same airport (she lives in London) which was, like, whatever, and flew to Edinburgh.  Details next time, but, long story short, we got drunk and didn’t do anything productive or worthwhile.

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Can’t do this in America!

That’s it for now, tune in to the next post in 7-10 months!

 

Slovenia

Alriiight, hope everyone’s been good for the short 4 months since my last blog post!  Some of you might think, “Hey Steve, isn’t that too long between posts?  Who really gives a fuck about following your blog if your posts are a million fuckin days apart?”  But what you don’t realize is that this is actually a master’s class (#MasterClass) in keeping readers’ interest – you gotta keeping people wanting more.  Paradoxically, less…is more.  That’s a free life tidbit.  Feel free to comment how it’s affected your life below.

I left Budapest on a bus to meet up with my Scottish friend Laura “Big Ginge” Smith and her English boyfriend, Chris, who were embarked on a 3-month journey in a converted van across Europe that happened to sync up pretty well with my trip.  The plan was to meet in Slovenia and then travel down the coast of Croatia together, the two of them a happy couple, and me the single American pussy-slayer to bring a little pizazz!!

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Here’s their stupid van.  They put a bed and a gas stove in the back, it was a pretty cool setup I guess.  Saved a lot of money, which they needed since  Laura’s highest-paying job since graduating college was working as a middle school custodian

We met up at Lake Bled, Slovenia, which attracts tourists from all over for its fairy-tail like beauty.

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I mean look at this shit

I left Budapest at 1030, changed buses at the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana (pronounced, L-jubl-jim-job), and finally got to Bled around 8 pm.  My phone was nearly dead, and I didn’t have any international data, but luckily, Laura had said she would meet me at the bus station, so I wouldn’t just be floundering about late at night trying to figure out how to get to the hostel from the bus station..

I got off the bus, took a look around, and – big surprise – no Laura!  Ok, well, she must have been held up.  I managed to find my way to the hostel on my own – mostly through guesswork/being a fuckin’ twice-deployed Army veteran, I can find my way around Kandahar, I can find my way to a fuckin’ hostel in fairy-tale bullshitland, Europe – and was able to describe the two of them sufficiently to the host (one big stupid loud crass redhead, and her English boyfriend, probably talking about, I don’t know, the Queen, or MI6), and found them drinking wine in the hostel room.  Hey guys, great to see you!  Ah no, no trouble at all, don’t worry about me!

We went out that night to the one bar and one club in the town, which were clearly supported entirely by under-25 English-speaking tourists staying at the only two hostels there.  Not much happened of note until we were on the way home – that’s when SHIT got REAL.

This little beat-up sedan drove past Chris and suddenly stopped, and these 4 dudes piled out and surrounded Chris, going “What’s up!?  What’s up!?” Ready to kick his ass.

Chris, who was hammered, smiled and went “Hey, what’s up?  I’m Chris,” in the friendliest, most benign way possible, and started shaking their hands going “I’m Chris.  I’m Chris,”  and this seemed to take them so off guard that they went from getting ready to beat the shit out of him to just…introducing themselves.  The wind completely went out of their sails in the span of about 10 seconds.  I introduced myself as well (I had been about to start yelling “Yeah rip his fucking head off!!), and we ended up talking to them for a bit, and learned that they were from Serbia.

After a couple minutes of very friendly chitchat, they just apologized for the whole thing and sort of sheepishly pile back into their shitty 4-door sedan.  Right before they left, one stuck his head out the window and said, I shit you not, “Have a good night…WE’RE GOING TO GET SOME PUSSY!!!” and they drove off into the night.

This was the only interaction I’ve ever had with Serbians, and it went about exactly as I would have guessed an interaction with Serbians would go.  Sometimes, your ignorant and outdated conclusions about a country based on little to no evidence just turn out right.

Side note: One of the biggest lessons I learned traveling is that not everyone speaks great English, but EVERYONE I knows what “pussy” means.  Many times at bars I’d say to random foreign guys “What’s up, you guys getting some pussy tonight?” And 100% of the time, they would be like “Fuck yeah!”  Literally never failed.  It’s part of the international language, like music, or mathematics.

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7/10 Slovenians in these buildings are talking about pussy right now

The next morning we got up late and hung over and went to check out the lake, but it was thunder-storming, so we ducked into this dinky little schwarma place, which appeared to be the only restaurant in town.  The food there turned out to be the absolute worst schwarma I’ve ever had.  Normally I can’t get enough, but this was awful  – old, rubbery, shit-grade Slovenian mystery meat sandwiches, is what that was.

Around the time we all realized how shitty the food was, Chris discovered that his new Google Pixel, which he’d just bought a week ago, had been subjected to water damage as a result of being kept in the same backpack pocket as a half-eaten peach that Laura had stuck in there.  You know, how sometimes when you’re eating a really juicy peach, and you’re like, “This peach is really filling!  I can’t finish it right now – I’ll just stick it in this backpack pocket here!  Not wrapped or anything, so that it gets covered in backpack lint and little crumbs and all that nasty shit that accumulates at the bottom of backpack pouches!” Well, Laura found herself in this perfectly relatable situation and did just what any reasonable person would do.

Chris’ phone no longer made sound, and this put him in a really sour state that seemed likely to last all day.  The rain didn’t show any sign of letting up, our sandwiches sucked, Chris’ new phone had irreparable peach juice damage – people weren’t having a good time.  I decided we might as well have a round of beers (what else were we gonna do) to lighten the mood.  After 2 more rounds, things did start to lighten up quite a bit.

This ended up turning out to be a real “careful-what-you-wish-for” type scenario.

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Taken with a Google Pixel

Around the end of the third round, the weather started to clear up, so we decided this would be our last round.   Perfect – just a quick trip to the loo for ol’ Stevie and then it would be Lake Bled central, with most of the day ahead of us to truly enjoy it!  As I relieved myself, I filled my head with blissful thoughts of the scenic panoramas I’d soon be capturing on my Nikon intro-level DSLR camera.

Imagine my dismay upon my return when I found that Laura and Chris had decided, nah, fuck it, let’s just go ahead and order another round.  Why not?  Not like we can drink shitty beer from the world’s worst meat sandwich shop just any day!  So we finished that round – by this time it was like 3 pm – and then, somehow, they two fucking Brexit fucks managed to order like no joke three more rounds every time I wasn’t looking.  I guess it wasn’t too hard to distract me after a while.  I literally told our waitress “Don’t bring us any more, ok?”  But she didn’t listen.  Slovenians.

You can’t tell from the pictures, but I was having a bad time.

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Guys, stop, seriously

We entered that schwarma shop around noon, and didn’t get out till probably 6, after about 7 or 8 pints each.  This is, by the way, the only day I had in Bled, and I hadn’t even laid eyes on the fucking lake yet.

This was my first indication of something that would become very evident throughout our trip:  Chris and Laura, seasoned travelers with all the time in the world to do whatever they felt like wherever they went, had less of a “make the most of it” attitude and more of a “eh fuck it lets just get drunk and kind of hang out, it’ll still be there” attitude.

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Oh aye, sure, it’s greaat, but you know its just a big hole full of water at the end of the day innit?

We finally got out of there and shambled down to the lake in the remaining hour or so of daylight.  It was beautiful – would have been great to get a chance to hike around the lake, see some of the famous vistas from the other side, like the one from google images above, but I guess I’d have to content myself, for the rest of my life, with just the one, most pedestrian, easily accessible viewpoint, in the waning hours of the day.  Really glad I came all the way out here.   Traveling for the next 10 days with these two is sure to be a blast.  But hey, at least I got to drink a bunch of shitty beer at the worlds most back alley trash dump of a schwarma shop!

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I mean sure, that’s nice

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But sometimes, the best views are right in front of you

Later that night, Laura and I went to the bar and talked to these Norwegian speech therapist girls who were absolutely enamored with Laura and her travel stories.  I learned that Laura, who’s basically just traveled since graduating college (uh cool but how’s her blog), was just absolutely idolized by young women travelers.  They saw her as everything they wanted to be, this free-spirit woman who’d been all over the world and had an endless supply of travel stories.  I may as well have not been there.  I’d sit there sipping my beer and periodically interject; “hey yeah actually I’ve been to Australia too, just with my family in 8th grade oh ok yeah Laura no you go ahead.”  After we hung out with them for several hours, we learned they both had boyfriends, so that therefore the time we spent talking to these people from different places and learning about other countries had been a COMPLETE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME.

And that was it for Bled!  Day 1 with the UK fuks, and so far its going GREAT.

Budapest Part 2

OOHHH SHIT ANOTHER BLOG POST SO FUCKIN SOON!?? WHO IS THIS GUY!?  WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH STEVE!?

Jk ya’ll don’t worry, its the real Steve, of Traveling With Steve fame, just with a lot more time on my hands now that I’m unemployed (things are goin’ great!).  Which pays BIG dividends for you, the loyal blog follower!

Speaking of – the Facebook likes have really dwindled since blog post #1 way back in April and, I hate to bring this up, but that’s why I do this, guys, for the little red noties, hanging there at the top of my screen when I log in like Christmas stockings full of social media validation.  Honestly, you don’t even gotta read the rest of the post, just go back and like it, we’ll both be better off, this is probably gonna be garbage anyway.

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Plenty of pics to break it up though, don’t sweat it, 1 pic per paragraph, that’s my new rule.  New post, new rule, new blog, new Steve! No job!  No job, no problem!  This blog is my livelihood!

Quick recap from last time, I had just finished a day wandering around Budapest with the two pyramid-scheme Polish girls.  Luckily, it wasn’t a complete waste of time, because I did get some sick new travel pics for my Tinder.

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Somebody get this guy some pussy STAT

The next day I went one of those free walking tours of Budapest, which they have in most major European cities, and are great because the tour guides are always like young and cool, and you just tip them however much you want ($0, unless they fuckin’ impress me, I did improv in college), and they’re usually pretty good ways to see the city off the bat.  You learn a lot, its low-key, and most of the tourists are other young people, so you can talk about like, you know, beer and doing coke and stuff.

I took some solid shots of Budapest, much better than the ones from the second deck of the sightseeing bus, go figure:

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St. Stephen’s Basilica

 

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St. Stephen’s Basilica pt. 2

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The Chain Bridge,  Hungary’s equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge.  I mean, sort of, the Brooklyn Bridge is 300 feet longer, but who’s counting?  Wow, good job Hungary, what a biiiig bridge you got there!

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This is the Pest side of Budapest, taken from the Buda side.  It used to be two cities – that’s the first and only fun fact anyone who’s been to Budapest will ever tell you about it

At the top of this giant hill we climbed, during which our tour guide told us how in Hungarian “pussy pussy” meant like “hello,” I met these two British girls, Sian (pronounced like Sean (Paul) but with a British accent) and Alison (normal), who were in Budapest for the weekend.  There were also these two Indian dudes, one of whom was real fuckin’ weird.

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Weird Indian dude in purple, normal Indian dude next to him, there’s the two British girls back there, and literally everyone else in this picture is a Chinese tourist

The rest of the tour was pretty good, idk I’d get into the stuff we saw but I really don’t remember much that I learned about it and nobody really cares to read me rehash it anyway, look it up if you care so goddamn much, here:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest

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What you really care about is the PICS, that’s what keeps em comin’ back!

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BOOM here’s another one, that’s the sexy sexy Parliament building, third largest in the world, yeah that lil’  trivia tidbit’s for free, don’t forget to like!

Later on I went up to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica (remember the pic from before?  Cool how everything ties together isn’t it, that’s called foreshadowing, def worth a like!), tied for number one largest tower in Budapest (and comin’ in number two for largest tower belonging to a guy named Steve, yeah you know what I’m talkin’ about), which had some great views of the city:

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Down in that square there were a bunch of young people on rented mopeds just zipping around, like, for fun.  Which makes no sense to me; why in the world would you travel all the way to Budapest just so you can scoot around a church square at 7 mph, looking like a fucking asshole?

On the way back down I randomly ran into the British girls again.  We made plans to meet up later at a bar crawl that the hostel they were staying at put on every night.  Like the free walking tours, in most major European cities you can also find a bar crawl like this that caters to young English speaking tourists looking to get belligerently drunk and ruin every bar they go to (count me the fuck in).

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Which way to the next cultural experience?

For those keeping track at home, yeah that’s right I’m on plans number TWO with foreign girls I met – two days, two plans!!  Pest Side, Best Side!  Pest Side Story!

Next stop was the Heroes’ Square, a big ass monument which is pretty cool, but more importantly offered a fantastic opportunity to take shots of the dozens of Asian tourists that were there.

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Ohh fuck yes

Asian tourists are seriously a sight all on their own.  I got ten times as much enjoyment out of watching them than I did from the square itself.  I saw a lot of them on this trip, and they always had a few things in common:  They always travel in large tour groups of like 30-40, they have umbrellas and huge hats to protect them from the sun, and they wear a lot of really colorful clothing that looks like they found it on clearance at Ross.

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This dude on the right in the yellow hat is scopin’ out the hoes

And of course there’s the pictures they take; all tourists take photos, but these guys take it to another level.  They take shot after shot, and most of the time its just of one person.

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Ok hold still honey I’m just gonna take 36 more, just in case

Also, nobody has adopted selfie sticks like old Asian women.  They fucking love it.  They would stand in one spot for 20-30 minutes just taking selfies from every possible angle.

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Can they tell how big my hat is?

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Get out of my selfie bitch

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My name is Inigo Montoya

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EXPECTO…PATRONUM!!!!

Later on that night, I met up with the British girls for the bar crawl, which was really just an exquisite exchange of culture; I think we both learned a lot from one another, and both came back more enlightened and refined.

Sian and Allison hadn’t met many Americans before, so I think it was pretty exciting for them to encounter one in the wild.  Which was great for me, because I got to basically set their entire perception of what Americans are like.  A real opportunity to positively portray Americans, at an unsteady time in our relations with our European allies.  It seems like a lot of the foreign perception of Americans is of us being loud, hyper-patriotic, overconfident douches who play a lot of drinking games like beer pong and flip cup.

So of course I represented my country well, and confirmed every single one of these stereotypes to the utmost of my ability.

The bar crawl started with a big game of flip cup, which I guess is only really played a lot in the US, and all these inexperienced foreigners were fucking up their flips over and over like a bunch of first-year GDIs.  So when I nailed it on the first try and downed my inch of beer in a half second – par for the course at any frat house in the colonies – I was like this drinking game messiah, sent from the New World to show everyone how we party in the greatest country on earth.  Then I started chanting USA! USA! and Allison looked simultaneously mortified and kind of starstruck – right before her eyes was a real live American, fist pumping and aggressively chanting the initials of his country, just like they do on TV.

Europeans also love red solo cups; apparently they don’t have those in Europe, but they’re in all the movies, so if they’re at a party then its like a real novel, fun thing.  They asked me if we actually drank out of red solo cups at parties.

Uh yeah, only all the fuckin’ time.

In return, I got to learn a ton of great British words and phrases.  There’s cracking, which means like, “great”, as in “I’ll be at the bar crawl in 10 minutes,” “Cracking.”  They also say gutted, which means sad, like “My phone died before I could finish the snapchat of that American chugging his beer, absolutely gutted.”  Or when I told them I had a travel blog, they said I better not “slate” them in it, which means I guess to talk shit about, so an example of slating would be “The British girls were cool, but were straight up garbage when it came to flip cup and chanting USA.”

Taking a piss, in British, means to like be kidding around.  Also they say trousers instead of pants, and pants means underwear!  And they don’t say panties; these girls thought panties was a really gross word, like moist, or phlegm, or succulent.

They also got a real kick out of American dollar bills.  Sian waved a one dollar bill around and said “It just feels meant to be given to a stripper.”

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This excellent selfie is the only memento of our cross-cultural exchange

The bar crawl was a lot of fun, though after the first couple bars its a bit of a blur.  On my way home, I was walking down the narrow streets that surround the bars on the Pest side of the city, and this woman on a corner grabbed my wrist and said “Hey – hey – you like sex?”  Which, I gotta say, excellent salesmanship on her part.  Get them saying yes right off the bat.  I politely declined and kept walking, and about 50 feet past my watch almost fell off my wrist.  The buckle had been almost completely taken off – the hooker tried to steal my watch!  She almost succeeded too; it was pretty impressive.   She must be good with her hands.

So that’s it for this post, and for Budapest!  Next stop, meeting up with some big Scottish girl and her British boyfriend in Slovenia!

Thanks for reading, and hey if you have some thoughts on the blog so far, please leave a comment; I’d love to hear your honest opinions!  Only positive ones, though; if you’ve got something negative to say, go ahead and shove it up your fuckin ass, I don’t wanna hear that shit.

 

 

 

 

Budapest Day 1

BOOM What’s up motherfuckers!!!  Welcome back for the start of my EPIC 3-week Eurotrip, a whirlwind of culture, cities, sights, people, whale mats, bus rides, bunk beds, and, most importantly, gettin’ fucked up WOOOO!!!

Note: This all takes place back in early July.

Stop 1 of the trip was Budapest, the capital of Hungary, known for being really old, not very expensive, cool looking, stew, wine apparently, and having a totally sick nightlife.

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Cool looking, can confirm.  Jury still out on stew

I landed and exchanged $50 for like 40,000 Hungarian florins, and hopped on the bus to the city.  I helped a lost-looking Polish girl figure out which bus to get on, and ended up chatting to her on the way into the city (fuckin’ world-wise ladykiller, you know me guys, this is classic Steve).  However, this ended up getting me into a little bit more than I bargained for.

The Polish girl, who we’ll call Olga, told me she was visiting Budapest for a week as part of an organization called WorldVentures DreamTrips (mouthful) that sets up “dream vacations” for their members.  She had been a part of WorldVentures for 3 years, and she loved it; she got to go on dream vacations to tons of different places, and had friends now “all over the world”.  And these dream trips were, believe it or not, cheaper than regular trips!  Membership in the WorldVentures, though, was invite-only; they only wanted to travel with people that were fun to travel with (obvi).  She worked in banking, but her true passion was travel, and she wanted to work with WorldVentures full-time someday.  She handed me a business card with her name on it, and on the other side it just said “Follow Your Dreams.”

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I found this on Google Images but its actually really close to what her card looked like

Alright so this was all real fuckin’ weird, but you know what, there was a language barrier, and I didn’t get to talk to her too much about it, so I didn’t read too much into it right then.  We friended each other on Facebook, and she invited me to check out the city with her and her friend the next morning.  Hell yeah, just arrived and already made a friend with a foreign stranger, fucking CRUSHING this single traveling adventure.

So the next morning I met up with Olga and her friend, who turned out to be like, 40, and also didn’t speak a word of English, to go on one of those Hop On/Hop Off double-decker bus tours you see in every major city.

Travel pro tip – never go on one of these fucking things.  Stupidest way to see a city ever. It’s full of fat tourists and their fat kids who got on the bus because for them it’s easier than karting their families through the metro or down busy city streets, and they just want to sit for a while and see the sights with as little effort as possible, because traveling with children is exhausting and miserable.  You put on these garbage airplane headphones with the scratchy ass black earpieces and listen to a pre-recorded voice drone about everything as you pass by.  It cost like $35 and it’s just the least authentic, most un-immersive drive-by way to see a foreign city ever conceived.

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Some shitty picture of I guess a horror clown circus freak show that I took from the bus window; not pictured, dozens of sweaty English-speakers and their children all not giving a fuck about Budapest

Of course I didn’t really realize this at the time, and I was happy to have travel companions, so I bought myself a ticket and hopped on.  We stayed on the bus for maybe 1.5 hours, and I did get to see most of the main sights of Budapest, and got a pretty good lay of the land.  But mainly stewed and formed the opinion of hop on/hop off bus tours that was expressed in the previous paragraph.

We finally got off that double-decker, spilt-ice-cream-cone and I ❤ Budapest t-shirt nightmare family vacation wagon at Gellért Hill, a big ass hill on the West side of the river that overlooks the whole city and has some dope views.

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View From the Top ft. Random Asian Guy

At the first main viewing point, Olga and her friend unrolled a blue and white sign that said “You should be here” and asked me to take a picture.  I guess “You should be here” is the totally fuckin obnoxious slogan of WorldVentures, that just very kindly gets straight to the whole bullshit my-life-is-amazing god-I-love-traveling look-at-me social media photo bragging that everyone loves to engage in nowadays, anytime they leave their zip code (hate people like that, nobody cares about your travel adventures, idk how people can be so self-unaware).

Alright I feel like I should say I do feel a little bad being as critical of this day as I am, because Olga was very nice and friendly, and I’m sure she’d feel bad if she read this, but she probably won’t, and hey you know what else, I’m not here to censor myself because then what’s the fuckin’ point, right!?  I’m just up here spouting bullshit!?  You come here cuz you know its gonna be REAL, and if I’m not gonna tell it like it is, then I might as well roll out a “You Should Be Here” sign myself for a Valencia-filtered Instagram shot of me shoving a baguette up my ass at the Eiffel Tower with the caption “Take Me Back #WanderLust”.

On the way to the top of the hill were a bunch of stands selling little touristy knick-knacks and a couple fun, authentic, Budapest-specific historical activities you can only do there, like shooting a bow and arrow.

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Preparing to defend their virginity

At the top of Gellért Hill is the Liberty Statue, Hungary’s shitty ripoff of the our much larger and more impressively named Statue of Liberty.

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Sorry, is it behind that little garden fixture?

At the top, which offered some great views of the city, and which I’d really recommend visiting, we ran into 3 dudes who were also part of WorldVentures.  Apparently there was some sort of big event this weekend, and a bunch of WorldVentures people were in town.  Olga asked me if I wanted to go – she said there would be around 7,000 people there.  I said “What kind of event is it?  Is it a party?” And she said “Um, well, it is sort of like a party,” which is a really disconcerting way to describe anything.

Apparently these other dudes are pretty big deals in WorldVentures, real higher up types.  Olga and her friend were very impressed by their status level.  It was 3 older men, in like their late 30s or 40s.   And this is when I finally really got tipped off as to what WorldVentures is all about.

I witnessed the highest-up WorldVentures big fish take a video of himself on his phone that went like this, as best I can remember: “What’s up everyone, I’m here at the Liberty Statue in Budapest, Hungary, and I’ve got just a beautiful view of the city from up here, truly amazing.  The Liberty Statue up there, you can see it behind me – Liberty, what’s that mean?  It means freedom – the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  That’s real freedom.  But most people out there, they never get that.   They’re tied down by this system in a 40 hour a week, 9 to 5 job that they hate, and they never get to do what they truly want to do.  But you can be just like me.  You just have to get out and do it.  With WorldVentures, we travel around to all these incredible places all over the world, and wherever we go we run into friends!” here he puts in the Polish girls in the frame, and they wave and go “Heeeeyyy!”

So now I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of exactly what WorldVentures is all about.  I do some quick Googling on my phone and find a variety of sites confirming my suspicions.

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How do I sign up??

Turns out that WorldVentures is a classic example of a multi-level marketing company, also called an MLM, which is basically the modern version of a pyramid scheme, but with enough steps in between to technically be legal.  It checks all the boxes for a typical MLM: too-good-too-be-true sales pitch: the promise of leaving behind your 9-to-5 job and fulling living your life, being a self-starting entrepreneur, etc.

You pay $55/month plus a $250 signup fee (total $910 for first year) to get access to their travel packages, which are purportedly at discounted prices; however, the discounts for any given trip is like maybe an $80 value, so you need to travel and spend a ton of money for it to really be worth it.  But, you can get your monthly fees waived for a given year by recruiting 4 other people to Dream Trips.

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You can read more about Dream Trips here. There’s also a great This American Life podcast about MLMs in general, which I’d heard before this trip and is what really clued me in, that does a great job illustrating how these companies prey on people who are unsatisfied with their lives, and the kind of damage they can do.

So now I know that these Polish girls are completely taken in by this scam, and I’m thinking, 1 – I need to get the fuck out of here, and 2 – should I tell them?  I go through scenarios in my mind of how I can try to explain to this poor girl that not only has she been taken in as a sucker for the past 3 years and probably lost thousands of dollars with WorldVentures, but also that her dream of leaving behind her unfulfilling life as a banker and achieving self-actualization by traveling full time is almost certainly doomed to fail.

Between the language barrier, the fact that we just met, and the level to which she has probably already had to delude herself to reach this point, I couldn’t imagine that conversation being successful.  So I decide to cut my losses and bail.

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I stick with them for another meandering 2 hours while they try to navigate using solely the hop on/hop off bus system (which is a fuckin’ dumb ass way to try to get around) and while I cast about for some plausible excuse to ditch them.

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I’m trapped, please send help

Finally I go with “I’m tired and am gonna go back to the hostel and nap, hopefully we can meet up later?” (classic) and bounce.  We did not meet up later.

Instead I made the absolute most of my time on my own, with the freedom to do what I wanted to do: I walked around taking pictures of the city at night, hiked back up Gellert Hill and got sorta lost on the way, made a great Snapchat story, decided to wait it out a few hours until sunrise so I could snag a sick sunrise shot, tried to sleep on a bench using a trash bag for warmth, gave up after an hour, and walked back to the hostel without seeing the sunrise.

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When u post ur snapchat story again on ur blog

Right so that’s Budapest Day 1!  What a great time!  If you want to have experiences like this and travel the world like me – check out WorldVentures DreamTrips!  The more you travel, the more you travel!

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P.S. I felt bad after I wrote this and sent Olga a message on Facebook telling her in the nicest terms I could that she might be the victim of a predatory pyramid scheme that is scamming her out of all her money with the empty promise of a more fulfilling life, along with a few helpful links.  She hasn’t responded.  Also don’t worry I set my Facebook post on this blog so that she wouldn’t see it, so, hopefully that function works properly.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

What’s up motherfuckers!  All my dedicated blog followers have no doubt been waiting with baited breath for the closing act to my 4-day trip to Munich that I took way back in like idk fucking March or something.  Suffice to say posting about this trip to Garmisch (-Partenkirchen) has taken a lot longer than I thought it would, not because I wanted to like, figure out the best way to tell a great story, but more in the same way that you leave a shirt on your floor for like 6 months because you just couldn’t be bothered to pick it up right away, and over time it just becomes a habit to choose not to pick up that shirt.

The good thing about all this time that’s passed is I’ve forgotten everything that happened except probably the only things worth really telling anyone about.  My trip can be boiled down to basically this:

  1. Garmisch is fucking crazy beautiful, this old looking Bavarian town surrounded by incredible views of the Alps everywhere you look.
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Dear god

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What the fuckin fuck

2. The thing to do at Garmisch is to go to the top of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.  You can get up there by hiking, taking a 2-3 hour train ride, or taking a sweet like 30 minute cable car.  Since I still had to drive 6 hours back to Baumholder to go to work the next day, I didn’t have time for any of these except the cable car.  So I drove about 30 minutes to the cable car station, realized I was at the wrong place, drove another 30 minutes to the right place, and was greeted with this:

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Sorry folks, park’s closed!

Well, fuck me I guess.  So I didn’t go to the top of the Zugspitze.  Great, cool, totally cool, great trip, awesome.

I did get some pictures of the Austrian town Ehrwald, which is just as crazy beautiful, and more quaint, smaller, and less touristy that Garmisch:

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Jesus Christ people actually live here

Though it was a little tough to enjoy fully that since I was in a pretty rough mood about not being able to get to the top of the Zugspitze.

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Here I am, once again

3.  I did get to check out Partnachklamm, the #2 (of 2) things to do in Garmisch.  Partnachklamm is this totally sick kind of otherworldly-feeling gorge with weirdly turquoise rushing water and sunlight filtering down the steep rock walls through sprays of water.  You walk along for about a mile or so along a narrow path cut into the side of the rock.  It feels like a place where you would find a really cool Pokemon.

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Feels like there’s an Articuno back there

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Hope I brought enough Ultra Balls

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This is a good spot for a save in case I need to try agian

There were also some nice views on the short hike up to the gorge:

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Hey look a functioning cable car, what a crazy impossibility

That’s it for that, leaving us with the last significant part of this trip:

4.  I got a parking ticket (never paid, suck it Germany!!!)

And that’s it!  I know, enrapturing.  So worth the wait.  I almost didn’t even write about this but I just had such dope pictures that I had to share.  You know what, maybe you should just check out the pictures, and not read any of it, because there isn’t anything that interesting.

Next post though – oh boy, it’ll be a big one.  Next post will be Budapest, the first place I visited in my wild, epic, honestly soon to be legendary, 3-week Eurotrip.