Friday, September 2, 2011


I'm not a numbers person. I work with words. So I'd prefer to write a long post about the meaning of this 30 day "European Extravaganza" with my brother. But we took the trip in 2008 and since it's almost 2012, I'll shut up now and end this blog by crunching a few numbers.

Number of days our trip lasted = 30

Number of days I wanted to strangle Trent = 4

Number of countries visited = 8

Number of countries glad to see us leave = 8

Number of cities visited = 13

Number of cities we got lost in = 13

Number of hostels slept in = 14

Number of hostels with old, drunk, Dutch men snoring crazy loud, wearing tighty whities, and smacking right into me in the middle of the night when I was searching for the bathrooms = 1

Number of couch surfers who opened their homes to us = 2

Number of couch surfers gave us his small bed to share and lit candles in his room to create a romantic atmosphere even though we told him we were siblings = 1

Number of flights taken = 5

Number of times we got in fights with people trying to cut in line at the airport = 1

Number of trains taken = 7

Number of times Trent made me eat dinner at the train station = 4

Number of times we went the wrong way on subways = 12

Number of times we stole = 3 (cheese in a hostel fridge, internet, movie-hopped)

Number of gelato scoops eaten = 24 (rough estimate)

Number of near death experiences = 1 (Trent on the ropes course in Switzerland. I almost peed I was laughing so hard)

Number of times we went for runs = 7

Number of EuroCup soccer games we watched = 12

Number of times we smiled in pictures = 5

Number of ugly faces we pulled = too many to count

Dublin & Glendalough Mountains

Our last leg of the journey was spent in Ireland. We were pretty wiped out by this point and Trent's beard was pretty ridiculous:
Food was continually getting caught in it and yes, he often did comb it with a fork.

It was rainy and cold so we ate lots of lamb stews and shepherd's pie:
I wanted to see green grassy hills (I have a minor obsession with them) so we travelled to the Glendalough Mountains and stayed at a cozy hostel away from civilization.

Here we found a monastery built in the 5th century. The FIFTH century!

It was simply incredible.
We also stumbled upon the coolest looking cemetery ever:
and took some very class pictures:
There was much exploring to be done in the drizzle. As we walked to the only grocery store in miles, we found the following church built in the 11th century:
so we went inside and had a look around:
The Glendalough mountains were everything you'd imagine when you picture "green Ireland."
They were absolutely stunning but we were ready for civilization so we headed back to Dublin. In the city we found bizarre statues on every corner:
We found the random "Dublin spire",
along with St. Patrick's Cathedral:
pig heads:
and a store with "Irish-looking" hats.
Would you be fearful if you met us in a dark alley. I would.

Sadly, what I remember most vividly from Dublin was getting a mean case of the runs on the last night. Trent found it hilarious.

Thus, with a few last ugly faces, our journey was over and we flew to London and then headed home.


We debated about going to France. Who wants to go somewhere where you're not welcome? In the end, I made the decision because I found a cool couch surfer in Paris and we had a free place to stay. Our first encounter with a Parisian? A fight.

Okay, not really a fight. But this slippery character tried to cut in line in front of us at the airport. He didn't realize who he was messing with. Normal people might let it go, but Trent and I have never claimed to be normal. He feigned a lack of English when we called him out (I believe I called him "buddy"), but through pantomime and Trent's frightening beard, he realized we meant business and moved.

Of all my Paris memories, I remember this most vividly. Awesome.

When we arrived in Paris, we wandered around while we waited for Krs to pick us up. Yes. His name is Krs. He changed the spelling. Question: how would you pronounce that?

I referred to him as K-urz and Trent had a field day mocking me since his name is actually Chris.

But I digress. While we waited for him, we found a donor place and ate some grub. Not very memorable. Except it was. You'll see why later.

Krs picked us up and drove like a madman as he took us on a whirlwind night tour of the city. I'm pretty proud of this next picture:
Not sure why it came out that way but I love it.
Here we are with our new, tiny Parisian friend who spells his name wrong.

The next morning I went for a run with Krs through his neighborhood and went through the backyard of a castle. A freaking castle. I love running in Europe.

Krs took us to a pastry place to find breakfast and I think this was when I fell in love with Paris.
They REALLY know how to do pastries.

Two other tourists had crashed at Krs' house as well so the five of us brought our fancy and delicious breakfasts to the gardens at the palace of Versailles.
(Clearly, Trent did not get the memo to look normal when a stranger takes our picture and we're in a group with people we don't know that well.)

Our personal Parisian tour guide in pink showed us around the grounds:
And we worked with him on making ugly faces:
He still needs some practice.

While Krs went off to work, Trent and I started exploring. First stop: the Louvre.

On the way, it started to pour and Trent, aka thriftiest man alive, refused to buy an umbrella. I finally tired of walking in the rain and bought one which Trent proceeded to steal and make me stand in the rain. Ahhh brotherly love.
We look pretty happy here but I promise you, I was genuinely pissed him about 15 seconds before this picture.

Trent wasn't exactly stoked about wandering through a museum but he had enjoyed the artwork in the Vatican museum and plus, it was pouring rain, so he didn't complain too much as we spent hours inside.

There were some pretty legendary sculptures:
which we liked to mimic on occasion:
And there were some absolutely phenomenal paintings:
which we liked to make prettier will our pretty faces:
Yes, we're both trying to do the "Mona Lisa" face.

Once the rain let up, we went looking for lunch. Remember that donor place I mentioned? Well Trent decided he had to have lunch there. HAD to have lunch there. It was close by so we walked to it.

Only we got lost.

Majorly lost.

We walked for over an hour and ended up right back at the Louvre. I was able to laugh it off and suggested we just find another donor place, but no. Trent would not have it. When Trent has an idea in his head, it must be done. He told me I could go find another place but he would be searching for the one we went to the day before.

So we walked.

And walked.

And walked some more.

And finally found this greasy, hole-in-the-wall, average donor restaurant.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, THAT is the meal we walked 2.5 hours through Paris to get to.

On our way to meet up with the others for dinner, we passed this.
We didn't know what it was but it looked pretty cool and this might be my favorite facial expression from the whole trip.

Krs introduced us to some tasty crepes and not so tasty alcohol:
(Genuine look of disgust)

and we called it a night.

The next morning we said goodbye to Krs and went into town to meet up with Ish and Lisa- parents of Trent's good buddies from high school who happened to be in Paris at the same time. While we waited to meet up with them, Trent and I took pictures under the Eiffel Tower and then took naps on the grass.
While we were napping, a gypsy stole Trent's i-pod which he had laying next to him. However, a good Samaritan woke us up, handed Trent his i-pod back and said, "That gypsy just pinched this but I chased him down for you."

I've never had so much hope for the human race as I did in that moment. Gotta love good Samaritans.

We met up with Ish and Lisa who are two of the most generous people I've ever met. They paid for our hotel room! After sleeping in grimy hostels and sharing a bed with Trent at Krs' place, this hotel room was heaven. (Yes, we made a pillow barrier when we were forced to share a bed).

In the afternoon, we did some more sightseeing:
which means we got lost. Again.
(Genuine look of confusion)

That night we went to dinner with Ish and Lisa and their friends. And played card games with them for hours.
Not only extremely generous, these are some truly hilarious folks.

Thus concluded our whirlwind stay in Paris. Despite the rain and the gypsies and getting lost searching for crap food, this was my favorite big city.