Pissing In strange places

As I sit here, about to head home after 6 weeks away, I’m reflecting on two common themes from this trip: pissing in weird places and sleeping in weird places.

I have pissed:
-in a hotel room sink in Vernazza
-in Tupperware in London
-In a cashew jar in London
-on the lawn of a fancy hotel, Guerilla style, in Milan
-in a drinking glass that I periodically dumped into the grass outside my sleeping quarters in London
-in a home made tin foil funnel feeding into a kombucha bottle in the back of a four runner in a train station parking lot (attempted, but failed)

I have slept:
-on a futon in Brooklyn
-on a bed in Manchester
-on a boat floating on the Thames river
-on a sectional couch in Greenwich
-in a loft bed in Rome
-in a 300 year old stone wall apartment in Tuscany
-on a foam pad in Copenhagen
-a futon identical to mine in Germany
-in a “tool shed” in London
-on a sofa bed nest in new haven

We have experienced such amazing things on this trip, the most important and memorable being all of the relationships we formed, and the open arm welcomes we got everywhere we stayed. It was very humbling. The kindness we received is unforgettable.

Huge thanks to all of the people who made this trip possible – it was a group effort!

-Todd, for taking us to the airport
-Matt, for letting us crash at his apartment in NYC
-James, for giving us his bed and showing us the best time ever in Manchester
-Sally, for letting us couch surf in London
-Alexandra and Paolo, for taking us in like family in Tuscany
-Klaus and Viktor for showing us around Copenhagen and housing us
-Our beautiful German friends for pampering us in Wettenburg
-Sarah, for giving us her bed in Stockholm, sharing her box of wine, and giving us her bus pass
-Melissa, for the nest, the great company, and the naughty professor Tumblr page
-Prikryl, for driving us to Boston, for finding Twisted Fork, for the book, and for being all around the most delightful, genuine person ever.
-Marissa and Anthony for taking us in on our last night!
-roomies for taking care of the birdies
-Denise, for taking us home from the airport
-Stacie, for picking up and starting a placenta for me!

A Special Kind of Hell

Day 10 – Tuesday, September 17 – Travel Day, Manchester to London

This morning was bittersweet as it was our last with James. We weren’t in a rush though, so we got to hang out a bit before it was time to leave. I made coffee in the french press that Kris drank, but James dumped out because it was too weak. Ha! I can’t seem to make a decent cup of coffee or tea for that guy.

We left around 11 and James said we were welcome back anytime, to call him if we needed anything – if we lost our wallets and needed money or our plans fell through and we needed to come back. He is just the greatest guy. A real friend for life.

Kris was feeling the funk so we stopped to get some garlic cloves to put up his butt and some effervescent vitamin c.

We stopped for lunch at Teacup on Thomas. It seemed really funny to me – Kris going to the bathroom to put garlic up his ass at a proper tea house.

The food was delicious and we had the same hot waitress wearing the same tight pants as before that Kris was drooling over.

We got to the bus station and realized we didn’t have our bus ticket number. There was no wi-fi in the station so Kris ran back to the public square that had wi-fi and I stayed in line to get on the bus. It took him a while and he came back unsuccessful. I went up to the ticket window, but there was nothing they could do. I mean – I’m sure there was, but they were assholes. A girl in line heard us talking back and forth and she offered her smart phone so we could pull up our email. Brilliant! I am glad she offered because I hadn’t even thought of that. If we’re ever in that situation again I’ll just ask someone if they have a phone we could use. She was the sweetest.

We weren’t too far back in line but we still didn’t get to sit together. That kind of sucked, only because the bus is cramped so if I’m going to be squished next to someone, I’d rather it be my hot boyfriend. Oh well. At least I was on the aisle. Across the aisle from me was a real beast of a woman – chubby, sweaty, nasty, in ill fitting sweat pants, a giant sweat shirt, dirty sneakers, a greasy frizzy ponytail and a bag full of crap food and drinks. She had a terrible British accent and seemed to be drunk. I wish I could’ve gotten video of her.

The bus ride ended up being not so bad, but I was ready to get off by the time we got to London 5 hours later. I had a headache, was tired, dirty, hungry and sick of carrying my backpack around. Although thank fuck I just had the one back pack. I couldn’t imagine lugging around any more.

The bus dropped us in a huge station in London (akin to Grand Central or Penn Station), but little did we know – we were dropped in a little annex building of the main station. But we didn’t know that. So we’re wandering around the annex and we can’t find anything or anyone to ask. Every one we do ask is totally out of it and can’t help us. We got to the main building of the main station, but it was under construction and there was no signage, so it didn’t look like we were in the main station – it looked like we were in a shopping mall. You had to go around some secret corner to get to the hall way that led to the main station. And even there – it was awful. The signage was terrible, the British bastard at the ticket counter was a total condescending fucking asshole who clearly hated tourists. We finally got wi-fi so we googled a route, but little did we know – google does not differentiate between the different trains. It just says “take the train” but there are three different types of trains in London – the over ground, the under ground and the national rail.

We walked back and forth between the annex and the main station several times because we kept getting pointed by someone to go back. It was just awful. A giant lesson in how crucial planning ahead of time is. We should’ve worked this all out before we even left Manchester. I hate getting off a train in a new place and not knowing what the fuck to do next. I like to know exactly where I’m supposed to go and exactly how to get to my next destination.

Long story longer, we walked back and forth between the two stations and a ton of unhelpful idiots trying to figure out what the fuck to do for over two hours. Two hours of mind numbing mind fucking hell. After finally finding someone who was actually helpful and amazing, we got on the train (it was the last train and we literally ran onto it as the doors were closing) and then found our bus and with help from another stranger (since the bus driver was a douchebag) we arrived at our host’s house – 3.5 hours after our bus arrived (it should’ve taken us an hour or less). Even just finding the house was difficult. We were on the street, but we were looking for unit #10. Of course there was unit 1-9 facing the street. Where the fuck was 10? Ok, maybe it’s upstairs? How the fuck do you get upstairs? We wander around back of the building and find a back door. There’s a call box next to the door that has 4 buttons. The first one is for unit 12, the second one for unit 11, the third and fourth ones aren’t labeled. Safe to assume to third one is for unit 10 and thank fuck it was. Couldn’t have been more confusing though.

Our host, Bill, was totally awesome. An adorable British bachelor with a super cute apartment who made us feel right at home. We freshened up and then went out for food because we were getting delirious. We went into the pub and the guy was so nice. He said the kitchen was closed, but he might be able to wrangle us up a piece of cake or something. We decided to try the Chinese food place across the street. Chinese people with British accents! So funny. And the food was fantastic.

We came back home and chatted with Bill for a bit exchanging host stories, which is always fun. Then we showered and dropped into bed.

What’s with grown men and their blankies?

Day 9 – Monday, September 16 Manchester & Buxton

This morning was super funny. James didn’t come home until 9 o’clock in the morning from his date, so when we woke up at 11 and stumbled into the living room (where he was sleeping) he was still rough as fuck from the night before.

We ended up hanging out with him for a couple of hours and having a super lazy morning since he was blowing off work. And again we watch British reality T.V. and made fun of it – particularly – that dating show where three girls make dinner for the same guy and then he rates them. So totally sexist and hilarious.

We bought James a blanket the second day we were here because he gave us his blanket and he was sleeping with some shitty mattress cover. Such a dude for you. But it turns out he totally fucking loves the blanket we bought him – it’s like kris with his little blanket “orangie”. Every time we see James on the couch he’s snuggled up to it – eating, watching T.V., sleeping – it’s so funny.

Eventually we made our way to the train station and went to Buxton – a nearby town that James recommended exploring.

We passed so many other cute looking towns on the way, like this one

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Once we arrived, it was cold, rainy, and we were super hungry. First order of business was finding somewhere to have afternoon tea. We ended up going to the #6 Tea Room and it was super delicious – traditional finger sandwiches, huge scones with a big dish of clotted cream, and some yummy little pastries on the bottom. And a big pot of earl grey.

Afterwards we bundled up and walked through a big garden that was super quaint and picturesque

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Then we came across a really beautiful cemetery. It was small and all of the grave markers were from the early 1800’s. Many of them were families buried all in the same grave. And lots of young children. It felt like going back in time, wandering through there, reading everyone’s head stones.

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This is the beautiful opera house in town

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And of course, another polite sign in the train station

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We headed back to James’ for the evening and it turned out both James’ were home. We all made dinner and lounged on the couch talking and watching T.V. and having a great time. Then the James’ put on a British move called Dead Man’s Shoes. Fuck, it was great in the beginning – super funny, but towards the middle it got way graphic and I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I was going to sleep so I made Kris read out loud to me from his book, “Fargo Rock City” to distract me. That worked.

Rough as Fuck

Days 7 Saturday, September 14 Manchester

This weekend was totally fantastic. We had the best time at James’ place and he is just the greatest host and friend ever.

Saturday morning Kris and I were both a bit “roughed up” and James was “rough as fuck”, which comes out sounding like “roof as fook” with their awesome accent. That’s way more fun to say than “hung over”. We actually woke up to James knocking on our door saying that it was noon and the football game started two hours before he thought it did, so we needed to get up if we were going to go with him and watch it.

So we did. He actually left before us and we met him there. Made some quick eggs and coffee and stopped on the way to put a load of laundry in at the “launderette”. It was 3 pounds, or roughly $4.60 or a wash! Crazy, right? And 1 pound for every 15 minutes of time in the dryer. Totally worth it as travelers, but on the regular that would suck.

We met James at a cute little pub called Montpelliers and watched the end of the match. It was Manchester United vs Crystal Palace. Kris and James had this funny exchange:
Kris: Is Crystal Palace a city?
James: Hmmm, No – I think it’s a town.
Kris: What’s the difference?
James; Well, you can only be a city if you’ve got a Cathedral
Kris: That’s fucking weird
James: That’s England for ya, mate!

Afterwards Kris and I were hungry at about 3:30 – the absolute perfect time to have afternoon tea, as they don’t even start serving it until 2:30. I like how afternoon tea is really a thing over here. It’s not just some novel thing that we have americanized and ruined. Real British people regularly sit and have afternoon tea. We went to the most adorable little place called Teacup on Thomas.

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After that we walked all around Manchester and saw some really great shit. It is a really adorable town.
This is just some random government building

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Other side of the building

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Everything in England is proper

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And all of the signage is so polite! BTW – this photo was taken by Kris as he was actively shitting

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Isn’t Manchester so cute? Little pubs like this on every corner

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A bit later we went into a pub called Thomas’ Chop House because they were highly rated and had a dish called “lamb faggots”. We went up to the host stand and the host was an adorable British guy in a 3 piece suit. He said they were full at the moment – he had a table that was on dessert, but he was afraid they may linger and then we may miss being able to order food since their kitchen was closing soon. I asked if there was anywhere else in the area he recommended and he said they had a sister restaurant called “Sam’s” and he’s call over and see if they had room. That would just never happen in America. It just wouldn’t. Everyone is so totally genuine here and they treat you like an old friend. So, he called to the other place and told them we’d be coming. Then he walked us out of the restaurant so that he could show us how to get to the other one.

We walked in to Sam’s and the cute host guy there was expecting us. We waited just a few minutes and then sat and had the most amazing fish and chips EVER.

Just a couple of dorks, waiting for a table

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Fish and chips in the front and chicken kiev in the back

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It took all the washing powder and it fucked off

Day 6 Friday, September 13 Manchester

11am stumble out of bed. james is making us coffee and eggs on toast for breakfast. he calls ketchup “tomato sauce”. funny.

12pm James leaves for work for a few hours and we have some delightful alone time.

2pm head out and about for groceries for lunch. james pointed us to a great market called The Co-op. Some things here are super cheap like tea, bread, milk, and most prepared food in the grocery store. Something are normal (to us) priced like butter, meat, cheese. And some things are way expensive like produce and alcohol.

3pm back home to heat up our soup and bread. kris picked out a pretzel and some twisty cheese roll. they were both fucking amazing. the freshest best bread ever. immediately after lunch we went back to the same store for more twisty cheese rolls.

4pm wandering around town. Manchester is a busy city with a lot to do and see. people are very nice here. everyone is friendly and talks to you. like, if you bump into someone, they say excuse me. the hosts and waitresses in all the restaurants and coffee shops are so cute and chatty. everyone seems happy and they’re all pleasant and funny. but not in a robotic rehearsed kind of way. in a human kind of way. there seems like almost no barrier between cashiers/servers/shop keepers, etc and “customers”. i really like that.

5:30pm back home and james is back from work shortly after. we all hang out and chat for a couple of hours and I took almost a whole page of notes of funny things that were said:

Kris: Do they still play football if it’s raining?
James: Of course. Fuckin thunder, lightening, yeah. This is fuckin proper football.

James: It’s cozy in here with yous guys here. Usually it’s just me and my mate, just a couple of idiots, watchin telly, talkin shit.

James calls the University part of town “The student-y bit” and he says “mental” a lot.

He describes himself and two friends arriving in a bad part of L.A. with tons of black people everywhere. He says, “I imagined all the black guys playing basketball thinking – look at these flies, walkin into the spiders web.”

James describes a friend of his who works in a bar and gets him discounted drinks. A bit later he says, “We’ll go down to the pub soon, the one where my friend works.” I said, “Oh – the half off man-woman?”

Kris: Why is the light switch on the outside of the bathroom? I mean anybody could just walk by and fuck with you while you’re taking a shit.
James: Yep. They’re in charge of your destiny.

James’ washer is being funky and not working. We turned it on, and he went to check it a bit later. Kris asked, “What’s going on? Is it washing?” and James said, “Nope. It’s only dressed the bottom half. It took all the washing powder and it fucked off.”

Kris: How come it’s one penny, but two pence? And what are these two outlets over? They don’t do anything and they look strange.
James: Well fucking hell. He’s fuckin upset with everything – the electric, the plumbing, the telly….

James, on a girl he’s trying to get with: I’ve only gotten her drunk and made her laugh. I don’t think she knows yet that I’m not that good looking….

We were joking around about sex and I made some comment about Kris having a 4 inch penis (HE DOESN’T!)

Some hours later James goes to the bathroom and Kris says, in a total valley girl voice, “Why’d you say I hada 4 inch dick? Guys are sensitive about that stuff.”

James calls it a “wank bank” instead of a “spank bank”

Kris, on British actresses: So far, they’ve all been frumperific.

Kris also frequently notes how many extra words British people use. Examples:
“Sorry, not in service” (seen on a bus)
“This way to pay” (sign in a department store point to the cash registers)
“Way out” instead of “exit”
“Hot snacks pick up point” (sign at a cafeteria style cafe)
“Of which is saturated” (seen on an ingredients label, instead of just “saturated fat”)

Also, stuff like this:

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Kris and I were talking about sex and James, from his bedroom, yells “Are ya talkin bout poundin?”

A bit later we watched this hilarious reality show. The premise is a guy and 3 random girls. The guy goes to each girls house and she cooks him dinner. After he’s had dinner with all 3 of them, he picks the one he likes the best by showing up at her door for dinner at a predetermined day and time. But all 3 girls are given the same day and time – they don’t know if they’re going to open the door and see the guy there to “pick them” and take them out to dinner, or if they’re going to find a microwave meal for 1 chosen by the guy and left for them. Kris thinks it’s sexist, but James points out that they do it the other way too – having a girl and 3 guys and all the guys cook for her and she picks at the end.

The guy and the 3 girls on this particular episode were so unattractive! We were all ripping them apart with our commentary. I said, “Look at her teeth! She looks like a mouse….not that he’s that good looking either….” and James said, “Yeah…..he’s a bit of a shit head, huh?”

At some point the three of us went back out to the store for food for dinner to bring back and make at home. As James was checking out he called the cashier “honey” 3 or 4 times and she called him “love” 3 or 4 times. Isn’t that funny? “Honey” in the U.S. is almost condescending for a random man to call a random woman like that. But here it’s just purely polite and affectionate. So cute.

Later on James took us pub hopping. The first one was where his friend gave his cheap drinks. I had a delicious hard cider and Kris and James were scoping out the girls with the colored hair. I asked why they both liked that and they both agreed that “girls with colored hair are down to fuck.” and I said I bet they loved that reputation.

We sat there for a while people watching and chatting and then moved on to a few other places, having a drink in each. They were all playing really fun disco music and I loved it. At the third bar we were in I finally got to do a proper photo bomb! I’ve always wanted to do that. I was standing right near a group of 4 people who stood up with their arms around each other while another friend took their picture. I popped up behind them, right in between two of their heads, and I’m sure I looked like a complete freak. They didn’t notice at the time, but I’m sure when they look at it tomorrow they’ll laugh.

We went back home around 12:30 and James invited a friend of his over. She was really fun and we all hung out for a couple of hours in the living room, before going to bed around 3 in the morning.

Tub & Toast

Day 5 Dublin Thursday September 12, 2013

8:30am land at the Dublin airport. Long line at passport check. We didn’t sleep on the plane, but we’re functioning.

9:30am we’ve stored our bags at the airport (totally worth the $15) and are on the bus into the city center. got the seats on the upper level of the bus right in the front row looking out the huge window.

10am in downtown Dublin. We just guess at where to get off the bus and end up picking a great spot. Dublin is awesome. Kris keeps remarking how adorable and quaint everything is. And it really is.

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11am arrive at Brother Hubbard and have coffee, tea, and a cinnamon walnut scroll – a delicious cross between a scone and a cinnamon roll. After a few minutes we move outside into their super cute garden. It’s sprinkling rain and the weather is so refreshing.

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12pm Explore the streets some more. Lots of cute street art, like this

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Pop into the Dublin Castle. Most of it is free to wander around. They had a really adorable cafe with a gorgeous patio overlooking the grounds. And then another great cafe inside the library on the grounds.

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Kris thinks Dublin’s version of the exit sign is over complicated. At first he thought it was the sign for the bathroom – a man running frantically to the shitter

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2pm After a long walk over, we arrive at Bibi’s Cafe – totally worth the walk. It’s a cafe and a vintage shop in one, run by two sisters. Kris had an open faced turkey sandwich with a delicious chutney, I had a pot of chai and a slice of pinenut/feta/spinach tart, which came with pesto tomato salad and some dressed greens, and we shared a delicious pitcher of cucumber lemon water.

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We saw some snails just outside

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After lunch we were starting to get delirious from no sleep. I was wearing my sneakers, which were totally fucking up my feet. I had only been wearing my vibrams and what a testament to them! And to how much regular shoes fuck up our feet! I wore my vibrams all day every day walking miles all over New York City and I had no blisters, no discomfort, my feet weren’t sore, nothing. But just a few hours of walking in my sneakers and my feet were killing me and I had a massive nasty blister on one of my toes. Between the sneaker thing and us being too tired to think anymore, we decided to head back to the airport.

We got on the local bus (as opposed to the super fast express bus) back to the airport figuring we weren’t in a hurry, so might as well. What a fucking mistake! Oh my god, I’d had that pot of tea at lunch and I was almost pissing myself on the bus. I was seriously considering getting off at the next stop and just pissing on the side of the road. I was also considering taking my to-go box to the back of the bus and squatting and pissing in it. I was so fucking desperate. We got the the airport and I tore of the bus and ran my ass off inside to the bathroom. Kris said, “I felt so bad for you, running like mad, pulling up your pants that were falling down, dying to pee.” It was the best piss of my life, but fuck it was awful to have to go that badly for that long.

We got our bags together and had to reorganize a bit because RyanAir has a strict baggage policy. I have a vest that I brought so I basically tucked everything in my carry on into my vest – our tablets, phones, head phones, etc. Kinda funny, but it worked.

10pm Arrive in Manchester after a quick 40 minute flight over. Easily find the train and take it one stop into the city. James is waiting for us in the station.

We head back to his place and it is a nice walk over. His apartment is so cute! Right in the middle of town and on the fifth floor, so really nice views and great light. The whole place was very simple, modern and clean – quite impressive for two bachelors – James lives with his friend, James. Who also has curly hair. Isn’t that hilarious?

And the best part – they had a bathtub that was shiny and inviting. James made me toast and I ate it in the bath.

He also gave us his room and is sleeping on the couch while we’re here! What a guy! We are so happy to be here and to hang out with him for the next week or so. What fun!