Saturday, September 29, 2012

Discontentment in the City of Love

John and Mindy are continuing their European excursion. We last saw them in "The Cursed Carriage Ride" looking to entertain themselves with a little trip across the city. Today, they're considering a classy, personalized souvenir. But, they aren't really seeing eye-to-eye. I think it's time we see why. After all, a classy, personalized souvenir sounds pretty good to me. Definitely better than a kitschy beret. Oh, I guess Mindy already got one of those.

Whoops. You have to watch out with all those swindlers preying on poor, gullible tourists. I really think they should have learned after, "I'm on Vacation and Already Stressed". 

I'm sure it'll be fine. A little CAD (Computer-Aided-Doctoring) and it'll look super legit.

Until next time, God bless America.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Please Please Talk to Me!

Do you speak more than one language?

(Answering in fourteen different languages to prove your amazing worldly prowess is showing off. Don't be so egotistical.)

If you do, good for you. Hopefully it's one that will be helpful someday.

If you're an American, I bet English is it. At least I hope you speak English. I know that I do. And as an engineering student, that puts me ahead of most of my peers. Numbers are the better choice for them. If I knew how to insert them, I'd toss in all the random Greek letters I've learned over the years. But, I digress.

I only speak English, or American if you prefer. After all, I don't spell color with a "u". We, Americans, are a little self-centric. It's hard for us to understand that other places don't necessarily do things the way we do. (Not sure why they wouldn't because we're just that awesome.) I think this is historically the biggest reason American tourists are insulted. We assume everyone we meet speaks English.

Want to know a secret? (looks around suspiciously)

THEY DO!!!!!

In eight weeks in central Europe, I ran into a single person who spoke absolutely no English. Any idea who that person was?

Nope, it wasn't a random person on the street I was emphatically greeting to expel some of my excited energy.

It was a postal worker.

You'd think someone at the post office in Warsaw (across the street from a hotel nonetheless) might speak English. Tourists do like to send post cards after all. Your random relatives need to see what you're doing every minute of every day. Updating your facebook status and skyping with them every night is not enough. A postcard makes it so much more legit. For that reason, I think it's time to give you one.

Until next time, God bless America.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I know it's been a while....

I feel like such a failure having taken so long to update. But I have an excuse, I've written two papers, given two presentations, and had a test in the last two days. The joys of being a grad student. It's so much fun to read a hundred pages of journal articles about on-ramp merging models, planning theory, and the correct way to perform a safety study. Ugh.

I do have one better excuse (which is also more relevant to this blog topic). I'm planning a vacation!!!!

Want a clue as to where?

How about this?

     A Star Wars convention and you didn't do your Leia-hair very well.
Um, no. I'm not that much of a dork.
     A secret cult meeting where you worship black circles.
Once again, no. I prefer trapezoids anyway.
Let me say this in Spanish, no.

We're going to Disney World! And by we, I mean my boyfriend and I. That's him standing there next to me. He's the one who so wonderfully brings Quinton to life.

I absolutely love Disney. I really may be that much of a dork...or secretly a six year old who was abducted by aliens and had my child's body replaced with an adult female version. If you don't like Disney, I'm sorry I'm not sure we can be friends.

And, because I'm sure you're wondering, I may have to pull out a fanny pack.

Until next time, God bless America.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quinton's Foremost Blunders Episode 2

We last left Quinton in Pisa. We all remember his stylish pajamas from Episode 1. Thankfully, his luggage has finally caught up with him so the stylish Hawaiian tee and bucket hat are back. But, his luck hasn't been perfect. Quinton tripped while climbing the leaning tower and broke an ankle. Those marble steps are slippery!

So, what's the next stop?!?!


Where else would you go in Italy? Venice is such a wondrous city, especially if you're on crutches................
meh, we'll make it work.

Really, they're just canals. Besides, it's not like a modern city would still be that unfriendly to those in wheelchairs. I'm sure those bridges have been redesigned to make it easier. I'll bet Quinton is doing just fine. Let's check in.

Oops, I guess Quinton decided those bridges were too difficult on crutches. I guess a boat, or perhaps a life raft, is the next most logical option in a canal city. Though that gondolier doesn't look too happy about it. I really hope he doesn't catch anything. I can almost smell that water from here.

Until next time, God bless America.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Liebster Award

Hey, guess what?

I have received the Liebster Award! Oh, I feel so accomplished. Hopefully, I'll figure out how I am supposed to do this and not make some horrible faux pas. And really, if I do, I'm sure you'll forgive me. It's not like this blog is the epitome of seriousness anyway.
Truthfully, I really appreciative that Life on Peanut Layne decided to bestow this upon me. I'm pretty new to blogging and am glad there are some readers who actually seem to like what I'm doing!

As far as I know, this is how it works:

The Rules:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving you the award has set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs.

11 Facts About Scary Carrie I'm Sure You're Just Dying to Know
1. I am such a nerd, I even know pi to the hundred-millionths place: 3.14159265

2. Disney World is still my favorite vacation spot even though this blog focuses on my time in Europe

3. I have trouble reading deep or dramatic novels because I feel  like life is serious enough, I'd rather know a happy ending is coming

4. I was born in the 80s and am glad I missed most of them because I can't stand the music

5. I am from Nebraska but have never stepped foot on a farm

6. I love my Kindle

7. I'm super clumsy illustrated by the fact that I ran through a rose bush as a child

8. I adore snow but my feet get cold when it's 75 degrees outside

9. I bought the Fox and the Hound on DVD but have never been able to force myself to watch it because it makes me so depressed

10. I'm incredibly opinionated

11. I am very susceptible to sympathetic yawning

Questions Asked to Me
1. Do you have any phobias?
No, I am slightly afraid of lots of things like snakes, spiders, any large creature that is likely to try and kill you but nothing beyond rational fears.

2. What's your favorite season?
I like winter because I am a Christmas freak.

3. What's the inspiration behind your blog title?
My blog title is pretty literal. I'm writing about travel-related topics and am an engineering student so I just combined the two.

4. Where is your favorite place to shop?
I like wandering around Hobby Lobby because there are so many random things. Obviously I need one of these metal roosters to hang on the wall or a pink-leopard-print fleur-de-lis.

5. What's your favorite food?
Chocolate, any kind.

6. Do you have a favorite room or spot in the house?
I like my living room couch. I use it for napping, homework, blogging, or creeping on the neighbors as they walk by because I get a great view out the front window.

7. Do you have a favorite quote?
Last week I heard, "An optimist will tell you a glass is half-full, the pessimist that its half empty, and the engineer will tell you its twice the size it needs to be".

8. What made you start blogging?
After time in Europe with my parents (where I completely took control), my mom made a passing comment about writing a book of all I learned to make travel easier for others. I decided to blog instead, and quickly found that I would do better making it more humorous and less instructive.

9. Do you have a facebook page for your blog?

10. Do you any bad habits?
I am terrible about putting away my shoes and coats when I come back in the house.

11. What is your dream job or career?
I am still working on that. 

11 Bloggers To Whom I am Giving the Liebster Award
I apologize in advance if you've already gotten the award and just want to be left alone.

A Tea-Tray in the Sky
Cheapskate Blethering
Delightfullly Ludicrous
Dumb Stuff Drawn
I'm Just Saying;...(Damn!)
Mis/adventures in Book Land
Potentially Crap Blog
Sarcastic Art Review Fun Time
Sorry Kid, Your Mom Doesn't Play Well With Others
Stories About My Underpants
Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

But even if you feel like I am simply here to irk you, here are your questions.
1. What's the weirdest Halloween costume you've ever had?

2. Which high school stereotype were you? (nerd, jock, cheerleader, etc.)

3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

4. What do you do when you have writer's block?

5.What's your favorite children's book?

6. What's one TV show you are embarrassed to like?

7.Where do you really want to visit?

8. What is one way you consider your blog to be successful?

9. What super power would you love to have?

10. Would you prefer to work in a circus or be an astronaut?

11. Why did you pick your topic for your blog?

There you go. Now pass it on.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

For the Love of Cabbage

I'm not much of an adventurous diner. To me, mild is so spicy I feel like I'm about to die. If I could, I'd invent a new sauce simply called, "Bland". Can't you just imagine it?

I'd buy that. You know anything that is such a nondescript, gray color will be easy on the palate. But, back to the point. My lack of culinary daring made travel to Poland seem like a good choice. Because really, that area of the world eats meat and potatoes, awesome. Not to mention some chocolate thrown in. I can definitely deal with that.

After a few weeks, I found that I was sick of it. Really, how many pieces of pork can a person eat? I decided it was time to branch out and I was surprised by what I found.

Because obviously, we need to eat soup with every meal and not just when you're sick or cold. But wait, there's more!!!!

But maybe soup isn't your thing. I had definitely gotten sick of soup so decided to try my hand at the local Mexican restaurant, simply titled "The Mexican". It seemed super authentic. Especially once you saw the blank look on the waiter's face after sitting down and saying "Como esta?" 

Regardless, I ordered a taco. Chicken of course as Poland only seems to believe in beef if it's veal. And, I was surprised by what I got. I think an exploded view shows it best.

Any idea what the "Super Secret Section" was?

It was CABBAGE!!!! (well, it was kind of coleslaw, but they are synonymous in Poland)

I still have no idea why there was cabbage. Or why it was hidden underneath the taco so I couldn't see it until after I started eating. It felt like an intentional lie! The, "I'm going to pretend to serve you the rice-you-so-desperately-miss but hide the fact that it only covers 50% of the surface area of the plate, the rest is the cabbage you despise. Mwahahahahaha!"

I was unable to escape the cabbage. It was in soups, salads, kebabs, and a side dish to everything. I had hoped The Mexican would be cabbage-free. But I was wrong. Oh, the horror.

Until next time, God bless America.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Creeping Creeper Who Creeps

We all have different definitions of what we consider "normally" friendly. You may be a hand shaker, a hugger, or an emphatic waver. I hope you're not one of those who stands in the corner with crazy eyes, a serial killer smile, and stares.

What I find most interesting is how geographic these definitions are. Take, for example, how things work in Nebraska.
If you don't believe me, you've obviously never met a Husker fan. I've had random Nebraska cheers aimed at me in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Germany just for wearing a red shirt with an "N" on it. It's kind of like a not-so-secret cult, actually. We're not crazy, just a little too friendly for some people.

When we're not bonding over our love of football, volleyball, and various other sporting events, we Americans like to greet each other with the smile and nod. Let's see how this works. Here comes Jerry and Tim.
They're both a little preoccupied with mp3 players and smart phones to actually talk to someone in person. Why would you do that? That's what technology is for. So instead, they settle for the friendly, "Look I'm acknowledging your existence with a nod as if to say, 'Sup'?". That's classy.

The weird thing is this can come off odd in other places. I quickly realized the American welcome of smile and nod is not really acceptable in other places. Let's see what happens when Philip meets Eva on the street.

Ouch, they're trying as hard as possible to avoid eye contact. I definitely don't see a smile or a nod coming. It looks we're going to settle for cold indifference or choosing to blatantly ignoring people. This is why when I walked around smiling, looking everyone in the eye, and nodding I came off as a creeper. You tend to get stared at, and not in a "That American chick is so adorable" kind of way. Here's what it looked like when I ran into Philip.

Really, I was just trying to be friendly. Though I may have done just a little more than smile and nod. I can't help that I'm super excited to be somewhere other than Nebraska. I'm not actually a creeper, though a few Europeans may disagree.

Until next time, God bless America.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quinton's Foremost Blunders Episode 1

Quinton, The Quintessential Ugly American Tourist, made his first appearance in "I'm on Vacation and Already Stressed". But now, it's time for his first official cartoon. Hooray! I know you're all so excited, I can see you there on the edge of your seats.

So we welcome Quinton, who didn't make a great packing choice. He checked a bag with the airline and it included the majority of his essentials. After all, he needed to fill his carry-on with film. There are just so many pictures to take! It's a little unlucky that the guy at the electronics store didn't mention his new camera doesn't actually use film.

Guess what happened to Quinton's checked bag?

Your guess is as good as mine because we still don't know where it ended up. It's only been four days. After all, it's not like you pay the airlines hundreds of dollars to put bar codes on your bags or anything.....
But, Quinton has decided to soldier on with his head held high. No reason to let a little lost bag ruin your vacation. Look, he made it to the leaning tower of Pisa.

Wow, I had no idea Quinton liked kittens so much. At least he found a way to make sure his picture is one to remember. Does it count as a kitschy tourist picture if yours if the only one like that? And really, with a sleeping cap he can pretend he's a wizard in his spare time. Maybe he's the one who made it tilt.

Unless you want to make pink, kitten pajamas the new fashion trend, you may want to put some clothes in your carry-on. I really doubt you need that much film. Though, I think Quinton's picture is pretty epic.

Until next time, God bless America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Have you ever been almost killed by a Hungarian car?
I have.

Definitely wasn't the highlight of my vacation. At least I wasn't actually hit, broken bones were not my idea of a good souvenir. That's why I've decided that I'm going to to share some information about international crosswalks so you can make it home with all your appendages intact. You're welcome :).

I'm a college student so I jaywalk constantly. If a car is coming I know it's going to stop for me because I'm just that awesome. This is also true if that "car" happens to be a tractor. I'm from Nebraska, that's more common than you'd think. And really, there's no reason to be scared of tractors, they don't even go that quickly. Besides, Nebraskans always stop for pedestrians because they only want to rundown you down if you're a deer or a squirrel.

Midwesterners are never in a hurry. Cities are small and there isn't much else nearby. How much of a hurry can you be in if the only thing outside a 5-mile radius is a corn field? And, I doubt a 10 second stop will make you late to the office six blocks away. To make sure you got it, here's how it works in Nebraska.

Walk sign is on, go right ahead. The guy in the tractor is even wishing you a good day.

Don't walk, go right ahead. The guy in the tractor is still wishing you a good day.

That's not quite how it works in Europe. No one jaywalks. It was incredibly weird for me to see people stand on the corner, even when no one was coming. You start to wonder if they're blind and simply didn't see the sign. If you do try and cross, bam, $60 fine. Ouch. I'd rather spend that on some fancy doodads.

More importantly, since no one jaywalks, drivers don't watch for you. If you aren't supposed to be walking, they'll speed right on by. At least the cars are tiny. They're so small they may just bounce off but you probably don't want to risk it. Here's what my experience was like.

Walk sign is on, look at me go. That little car is waiting for me oh so patiently.

Don't walk, I'm glad I didn't get too far out there. My poor bows!!!! I hope they didn't fall down a sewer grate.

Some countries are worse than others. Take Italy for example, you may be hit regardless of the walk sign. All those mopeds seem to be in quite a hurry. Here's what it looked like.

Sorry, you need to excuse me. I'm going to go cry in the fetal position now.

Until next time, God bless America.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Would You Like a City Tour?

No, I would not like a city tour thank you very much. This is the most commonly asked question to any American tourist. As previously mentioned in "White Tennis Shoes are Super Sexy", Americans have a tendency to stick out. Therefore, panderers stalk us like predators. You can see their eyes light up with, "Look, Americans, they have money, mwahahahahahaha". If you're lucky, you may be harassed by someone who doesn't use a demonic laugh.

I'm sure you won't be lucky enough to avoid them all so we need to prepare you for when they bother you. This is what it started to sound like as I walked down the street.

Would you like a city tour?
No thank you.
City tour?
Take a city tour?
Sure you wouldn't like a city tour?
Leave me the hell alone!
City tour?
Don't make me mace you.

Hopefully your patience is greater than mine. I've been told the best thing to do is ignore them but it's a little hard to do when you're hot and your feet are killing you. Some panderers are going to just have to deal with a little frustration.

I found the best way to make it past the obnoxious city tour aficionados is to blend in. You walk around by yourself dressed as much like the native population as possible. Obviously, this doesn't work when in large groups of if you simply don't look at all like the native population. We know Quinton would have problems with that. So, I think it's time we invent a new approach to avoid them. Watch me and follow along.

Ha, I bet you can't see me. And then, neither can the panderers. Maybe you should pick up on my camouflage techniques so you can avoid them too, and save yourselves $100 or some jail time.

Until next time, God bless America.

The Cursed Carriage Ride

It's time to check in on John and Mindy. Hopefully The Curmudgeon and the Spaz have solved some of their issues.

Ouch, I guess it's not at all improved. At least Mindy is having a good time.

Until next time, God bless America.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Official Introduction of the Ugly American Tourist

I'd like everyone to give a warm welcome to our title character. Welcome Quinton, the Quintessential Ugly American Tourist.
If you were paying attention, you'd notice he already appeared in "I'm on Vacation and Already Stressed". But he's so special he deserves an official introduction. Quinton will be appearing in a weekly cartoon about his dalliances. I know you can barely contain your excitement for the first one. Don't worry, It'll be coming soon. Quinton is ready with map in hand and fanny pack at his waist. Bam!

On another note, we have our first follower! Yay! Thanks to If you haven't checked it out yet, you really should. And to Kellie, here's your prize.

It's super classy.

Until next time, God bless America.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's Time to Institute a 3-foot Rule

Today I would like to introduce the idea of proximity. In particular, proximity to things you shouldn't be near. And no, I'm not talking about germy people, deranged exes, rabid dogs, or crazed fans. Even though I think you need to watch out for those too. Here's what happened to me last weekend. I was afraid for my life.

If only. Here's what really happened last weekend.

Ok, ignoring those self-deprecating thoughts, I would like to broach the topic of things you shouldn't be near which are worth more than your house. Travel gives incredible opportunities to see priceless works of art. You can drink in the sights of the masters or, more likely, make yourself seem incredibly cultured next time you want to hit on a waitress. You'll be talking about the elegance of Van Gogh's brushstrokes and how you were exhilarated by that Monet. You can sound like a worldly, high-class gentleman. Or an ass. But you never know, some women like that.

While it seems like it should be common sense, an art museum is a situation for "lookie no touchie". I doubt we can convince the Louvre to do an interactive play-doh exhibit. Though, that would be awesome. Until we can, we have to keep our proximity beyond the damage threshold. Look at Winston here, he's doing such a good job.

Most Americans are well aware of this because we know what will happen if we don't follow this rule. Let's see how Bertrand does.
That probably wasn't a good idea. Here's what happened next.
Ouch. It looks like Bertrand isn't doing so hot. Maybe you shouldn't try and poke a painting. That seems pretty obvious. But one thing that isn't as obvious, the acceptable proximity to pieces of art vary greatly. I've devised a graph to explain this.

As you can see from the graph, there is a certain distance you much stay away from even the worst art. When you get to point A, the distance drastically increases. Point A applies to art done by people you'd hear about in an introductory art history class. Assuming you took and weren't just texting the entire time.

Point B is a little more interesting. Point B is where the acceptable proximity starts to increase exponentially. The location of this point varies depending on the type of art. I will break it into "Art that Looks Like Stuff" and "Art that Looks Like it Was Done by a Kindergartner". You know what I'm talking about.

In the case of "Art that Looks Like Stuff", point B is where viewers spontaneously break out crying while in its presence. In the case of "Art that Looks Like it Was Done by a Kindergartner", this is where it becomes so ugly that, if it was actually done by a kindergartner, the parents would be too embarrassed to even put it on the fridge. Better stay away from that. The ugliness may rub off on you.

Not all tourists seem to have gotten this memo. I once saw a little, Italian boy on a field trip put his hand on a Michelangelo statue. Too bad my spidey senses weren't buzzing or I would have stepped in with a dramatic


I could have tackled him to the ground to deter this horrendous snafu. Maybe it was good I didn't. The clumsy person I am probably would have looked like this afterward.

This is why I think we need to institute a 3-foot rule. It's just safer for everyone.

Until next time, God bless America.