London, Paris, Munich.

Lady E said to me several weeks back, “Thank God we’re going to Europe so we can hang out together,” after what’s been a particularly brutal summer at work filled with trips to Houston, Casper (Wyoming, bitch! Jealous?), and a bounty of after work events all about town. This was a much needed break, and the trip was so awesome it’d melt your face if I told you the whole tale.

That’s why you only get a handful of random musings about it, lest you suffer the face melting. So here we go.

* Everyone thinks their hometown airport sucks. Folks working at the Carolina Beer Company down in the new international wing of the Charlotte airport do even though the terminal has wide thoroughfares, a wonderfully open atmosphere, smells terrific, and looks like a new penny. For the record, people dig our airport in Denver. Predictably, I hate it.

* I’d like to thank Lady E’s buddy Lyndon for being such a ruthless taskmaster the day we got in to London. After leaving the house at 9:00 am Denver time on Friday, we traveled through the night failing to get any sleep thanks to a combination of some hurricane leavin’s in the Atlantic that produced constant mild turbulence for eight hours straight and seats that increasingly seem to be sized for people from 200 years ago. We arrived at 7:30 am London time on Saturday totally delirious and wiped.

All we wanted was for a brief nap. Lyndon wouldn’t have it and proceeded to march our weary asses through London all day. Parliament, Big Ben, Tower of London, London Bridge, down one side of the Thames, Tower Bridge, up the other side of the Thames, Covent Garden, Brixton Market (“Ohh-ooohhh, the guns of Brixton!), to some exhibition of old boats I can’t really recall, and finally capped off with the best fish & chips I’ve ever eaten in my life.

We came home, passed out at 9:30 and proceeded to sleep HARD for 12 hours straight. Never slept so peacefully – on an air mattress, no less – in my entire life. And the best part: No jet lag. We were on London time immediately and didn’t have a problem the rest of the trip. All thanks to the good intentions of the relentless bastard bathed in blood that denied us the only thing we wanted. Thanks, buddy!

* When in London, take your lady to Poundland, the British sister store of American institution Poundtown. You’re welcome.

* I watched part of the Rugby World Cup in London. South Africa narrowly defeated Wales. The good things about rugby – constant action, good hits, no commercials, interesting strategy once someone explains it to you – reminded me why I’m growing to hate the NFL. Pro football moves so fucking slowly, I can hardly watch it anymore. Does this sequence sound familiar? Kickoff – TV timeout – 3 and out – punt – TV timeout – 6 plays – punt- TV timeout – 7 plays – touchdown – extra point – TV timeout – kickoff – TV timeout. Legislation gets passed faster than that. Peter Gibbons from Office Space commutes to work faster than that.

* I cannot chew gum without looking like a huge d-bag. Which is why I usually don’t chew gum. But since we spent so much time in close confines with changing air pressures, I thought gum might help. And it did, but as I sat there chomping away, I tried to picture how I looked. Then I went into the bathroom and actually looked. I looked exactly as I thought – like a perfect cross between Clint Hurdle and a guy trying to scam you into paying an appalling interest rate on a used ’96 Toyota Tercel.

* Do the Eiffel Tower. Seriously, do the fucking Eiffel Tower. It is every bit as impressive, romantic, breathtaking, life-affirming, and fun as everyone says it is. I didn’t think it could ever live up to expectations (Hey, I’ve seen the replica in Vegas, right?), but the first time you see it, it will stop you in your tracks.

 

 

* Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, if you’re going to break up with someone, you might as well go big with it as this British dude did our first night in Paris. So there we are at this streetside café under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower sharing a delicious croque and a bottle of Bordeaux when I hear this guy coldly and assertively dumping his girlfriend a few tables down. That’s certainly something she’ll never forget. Getting dumped in Paris under the Eiffel Tower by your British boyfriend. Geez… That’s so excruciatingly poignant it almost sounds made up.

I couldn’t believe the guy had the balls to go through with it, but from the sounds of the conversation, I don’t think this was his first try to dump her. As I thought about it more, part of me thinks he brought her to Paris just so he could finally end the thing definitively and prove a point how much he didn’t want to be with her anymore by choosing the most ironic location possible. That’s both diabolical, and since I don’t know them personally, enormously entertaining.

*I went to Paris and bought a Quiksilver t-shirt for myself from their store on the Champs-Elysees. This is probably the dumbest thing I could have bought in Paris, I realize. But take a gander around the opulent Louis Vuitton store (that’s filled with Asian tourists), and I dare you not to gag at $2,500 for a scarf. Every marquee designer in the world has a presence on this strip, and the prices reflect that. My Quiksilver shirt is looking pretty savvy now, isn’t it? Still no? Ok.

* When Lady E and I travel together, we like to pick up bottle openers from the places we go. The cornier and tackier the better because let’s face it, you’re drinking and corny, tacky shit gives everyone something fun to gawk at as they open their beers. On this trip we picked up a garishly decorated German beer stein from Munich that’s also magnetic, a statue of Big Ben and a somewhat foppish-looking English bobby that are both pure cheese, and in Paris the coup de grace: A bottle opener with a bust of Napoleon on it that will no doubt be unable to defeat the pry off tops of any German beer, and will ultimately chase Russian beers into Siberia and freeze to death. High times ahead for Napoleon!

* Universal Traveling Rule #828: No matter where you go in the Western world, every town you visit will have a great Italian restaurant that all the locals rave about. And you’ll go there, and it’ll be great. But it won’t be terribly dissimilar from any other great Italian food you’ve ever had anywhere else. We ate terrific Italian food in London, Paris, and Munich.

* And while in Munich, don’t miss Schmuckland. Be wary if you’re Jewish though. For a couple of reasons, I’m sure.

 

*Oktoberfest… Ah, Oktoberfest. This deserves its own post, and will get one very soon, but for now, here are a few key bullet points.

  • They call this event “beer drinker’s heaven.” They’re right. I’ve never been anywhere where the simple act of drinking a beer was so purely enjoyable.
  • Fuck Disneyland, Oktoberfest is the happiest place on earth.
  • When you pee in public, if you have stage fright (as I do), one of two things will happen to you. You’ll either die from kidney poisoning from holding it in all day, or you’ll simply conquer it and cure yourself (as I did). It’s the ultimate urination gun to your head situation.
  • The German purity law governing ingredients of all beers brewed within Munich city limits (Reinheitsgebot!) = better ingredients = tasty brew = virtually no hangover after drinking a gallon of beer in an afternoon. Wunderbar!
  • You will begin to brainwash yourself into thinking lederhosen make a lot of sense after all that beer and seeing German dudes everywhere wearing them. Don’t let this linger or else you’ll end up wearing what are basically leather shorts to someone’s wedding a few months from now.
  • Lots more to come next week…

See you then.

edagger@crujonessociety.com