Have you ever looked at those glossy tourist brochures promising you bright and colorful adventures that look like this?
Of course you have because that’s what’s best for business. However, you inevitably arrive at your destination and discover something a little different…
I took this photo in Prague, which is a beautiful city in a soot-covered sort of way. It still looks a little run down in places because of its time under communism and a lot of the sights haven’t been scrubbed clean… or so it seems.
Moral of the story: when planning a vacation, make sure your perspective matches that of the travel agency. Or better yet, do your own research. Your sleep deprived spouse and children will thank you while you’re all cooped up together in that tiny hotel room with no escape from each other.
Once upon a time there was a fish named Beavis. He lived in a luxurious fish tank at the dentist’s office.
Ah, that artificial blue reminded Beavis of home, a river he had never set a fin in. How he pined for the that river, its plastic-free rocks, its running water, the availability of fishfriends and fishgirlfriends. And of course fresh worms instead of that flaky crap from a bottle.
One day Beavis decided to make his dream come true. A patient was passing by the tank after receiving a root canal and getting his teeth whitened and having his wisdom teeth pulled and being fitted for dentures… and Beavis thought “if I make this guy angry, he’ll complain to the dentist and the dentist will have to get rid of me to save his business.”
Things never go as planned.
Beavis enraged the patient by contorting his face to look like a toothless old man and released a giant air bubble to get the patient’s attention. The patient noticed and was not amused. But instead of raising his voice, he decided to dispose of that irritating bottle of Listerine that the dentist had just foisted upon him.
Yeppers. He poured in the whole damn bottle.
Fortunately for Beavis, the dentist saw this and eventually rescued him from the poisoned tank. Beavis was rehoused in some fresh water and soon the dentist was taking him to be released at the river.
Oh, the excitement as his new home approached!
Beavis was soon poured in and, having been subjected to fish food for so long, he decided to find a nice juicy worm.
And he found one very quickly. Unfortunately, it contained a hook.
Thus died our little dreamer. And then he went to Hell.
God ruled his death to be a suicide because harassing an inevitably grouchy dental patient will take you to the morgue more quickly than eating a Listerine-marinated fish.
Funny how things turn out.
Welcome to the men’s restroom. You may empty your bladder and/or colon here. Or your stomach if you’ve been drinking…
We have nifty toilet seat covers here to protect your butt from uninvited bacteria. Hygiene is important.
When you are done emptying your insides, please flush the toilet and pull up your pants. Don’t forget to refasten your leather belt.
And now that you have contaminated your clothing, you may go wash your hands. We’re glad that your belt can never enter a washing machine…
Ladies and Gentlemen, today I present unto you a wall. Actually two of them… with windows and doors and fun stuff like that. This abandoned side street will reward your refusal to follow the crowds when traveling in a small Italian town. The tour guide does not know everything and often steers you towards the “sights” whose overseers funnel his company a little financial recompense.
For that reason, you get a 2-for-1 post today. Since memorable stuff like this exists, established tourist attractions also insult my intelligence.
Actually, so do tour guides… so that’s 3-for-1.
Once upon a time many years ago I got myself elected to my high school’s student council. Part of the job involved planning the homecoming dance… which fascinated me even more than a roadkill barbecue; I had never been to one and wanted to learn what all the commotion was about.
You see, I attended Catholic school and the dress code pretty much nixed any reason an adolescent male like myself would want to attend. I’m sure the fluffy dresses billowed in the voluminous hot air spewed by disgruntled dates while the music probably surpassed the lovely rehashes “Dancing with the Stars” forces on its audiences. One day, I’ll write a post about that show because I’ve been forced to sit through it, but by now the good punchlines have surely been taken.
On the other hand, how could the world ever run out of punchlines about that show?
But I digress. There are better places to hold a girl and sway than a semi-air-conditioned gym filled with overpaid photographers and poorly made decorations. Yeah… the decorations were bad. The student council had to make them and none of us had any art skills. Plus, some of us were a tad lazy. The moon I cut out from posterboard was almost roundish and I’m sure it helped lots of romance blossom. I could have produced a perfectly shaped moon but I was never the type to gratuitously drop my pants.
I apologize for the negative tone this post has taken thus far and I’m sure my dance-loving readers would like some inspiration as well. For that reason, I’d like to offer a beautiful musical exhortation to get moving. This song is my warmest memory of anything involving dance:
When preparing to travel, many of us often forget to consider the “small” objects that occupy so much room in a suitcase. If you’re taking your SUV on a long road trip, your time can be spent on more important thoughts such as not forgetting those small objects; after all, you could fit a small department store in that vehicle. However, this time of year sees many students (and a few others) preparing to spend a summer or maybe even a year or more in a foreign country.
Let’s assume that you’ve lined up a one-year job in France starting in a month. You’re putting all of your furniture into storage because it’s too expensive to ship and you suddenly reach the inevitable realization: I can only bring three suitcases (or fewer if you can’t carry three on your own) and these three suitcases must contain the necessities for twelve months.
And so you ask yourself what you need to buy before embarking on your adventure. Your destination’s climate is different and your clothing choices should reflect that. That brings you to the stores and you inevitably make the ultimate impulse buy: socks. Big beautiful fluffy white socks that will make your feet feel so good as you walk and walk and walk and walk around a country where it didn’t pay to bring your car. Did I mention you’ll be walking a lot?
Anyway, you bring your loot home and soon it’s time to pack. Suitcase, meet socks. Socks, meet suitcase.
And guess what. Those socks take up a ton of room that could be used for other things.
And with that in mind, I would like to share a few packing tips. As I am not an expert on women’s clothing, my examples will come from the men’s side of the department store. Nevertheless, most of my recommendations should also apply to the ladies.
Rule #1: They sell socks in France. Actually, they sell socks in most countries and you won’t go broke if you buy them over there. Once your travels end, they’ll be well-worn (read: more compact) and easier to ship home. You only need to pack enough socks to last you until you can go shopping. In some European countries, you can wear the same socks for a month (or so it seems) without anyone noticing the odor… so I wouldn’t worry too much about bringing a lot of socks. Just sit back and appreciate the water conservation efforts. Seriously. If you’re lucky, you’ll stop noticing the smell just like the natives did.
Rule #2: You will be shipping a lot of stuff home unless you only pack two of the three suitcases you bring. Besides souvenirs, you’ll pile up a ton of new stuff you’ll use while you’re there. Of course, the empty suitcase trick only works well if you’re spending a couple of months with a host family that already has dishes and other household necessities for you to
Rule #3: Some items aren’t worth bringing. Unless you’re wearing it on the plane, skip the sweaters, leather jackets, and blue jeans. Compared to fleece and khakis, they take up a ton of room and your first goal is to not be naked and still fit your TSA-approved travel-size toothpaste into a suitcase. With a few exceptions, you should choose the clothing that takes up the least space. After all, your most snazzy clothes may not appear too snazzy in a foreign context.
Rule #4: Underwear is ambiguous. When traveling, especially if you’ll end up sharing a hotel or hostel room, you’re probably going to be undressing in front of people… unless you always utilize the bathroom for this purpose. That silk banana hammock thong is probably going to freak people out even if you’ve all seen enough penises to start an Oscar Mayer factory. And you probably will see that much nudity but you’ll get used to it quicker than you’d expect. You don’t necessarily have to go with the bulky flannel boxers but you should plan to show some courtesy towards your roommates.
Rule #5: Bring an international size conversion chart because each country uses a different set of numbers. Oh, and “extra large” can resemble a U.S. medium at times. Also assume that your chart will usually be wrong, so be prepared to try everything on before buying it. Except of course for that nice big fluffy 6-pack of socks in plastic wrapping…