Monday, October 20, 2008

Final notes from the road and other random musings

In Zurich, Switzerland


Throughout my trip I kept a little notebook (actually a big notebook) in my purse that I'd pull out at cafes, street corners-that sounds different than I meant for it to.... hotel rooms and train rides. I recorded a lot of thoughts and notes in "real time." So now that my journey has come to an end, I thought I'd share some final words before Chelsea Talks Smack resumes to it's usual smack-talking, men musing and neurotic self explorations.....

Here it is:

NOTES FROM THE ROAD
  1. If you're nice to foreigners in foreign countries; they may give you a slice of free cake. NOTE: This was written my first night in London when an Italian girl working at a coffee shop befriended me and gave me a slice of amaretto cheesecake...
  2. Hipsters, are universal.
  3. Even in England, where they speak English when an American opens their mouth, they look at you like you're an alien.
  4. It's illegal to feed the pigeons....?! No toppins a bag the days of Mary Poppins are over.
  5. WHEN IN DOUBT: Look for a sign, an arrow or a landmark and FOLLOW IT.
  6. When you're traveling alone, get used to people "borrowing chairs" from your table. You'll only feel like a tool for about five seconds, then resume eating.
  7. The handles, switches, etc. are different. I spent approx. 4 minutes in a dark bathroom in every country before I found the light.
  8. There's a fair chance people may look at you like a leper while drinking alone, it's a good idea to practice the "stop staring at me face" or a super large smile. Either one will make them look away.
  9. Note from Tate Modern in London: Jackson Pollock said something like, "modern art is the energy inside people's bodies that they cannot express...." Hm. What is my "unexpressable outlet?" What's yours?
  10. MEN ARE MEN, NO MATTER WHAT COUNTRY YOU'RE IN. Cat calling is multicultural.
  11. Humans are interesting, even in some of the most liberated countries, people are still trying to "do the right thing." Which is sometimes good, sometimes bad.
  12. Huge backpacks make you look like a janky tourist. It's true, watching backpackers catch a train made my back hurt for them.
  13. If you're lucky enough to have seen a lot of theater in America, don't expect to be super impressed with the theater/cabarets oversears. Let's just say, stick to historical art.
  14. Act like you know what you're doing.....even if you have no idea.
  15. To European cops: Is keeping your finger on the trigger of your machine gun really necessary? Because it makes me extremely uncomfortable.
  16. Europeans think our diet is bad; uh I'm confused, do we eat loaves of bread everyday? I think not. How the hell are they not obese?
  17. Long train rides suck less when you have an ipod and the "bar car."
  18. French people make smoking look tempting.
  19. Europeans, not nearly as vain an American's....it's refreshing to feel accepted and beautiful not matter what you look like.
  20. "Clubbing" is universally the same; cheesy men, cheesy music, overpriced drinks.
  21. There isn't a stigma about meeting men in bars like there is in America....maybe because not ALL Euro men are chasing tail when they're chasing their vodka.
  22. Chivalry; sorta dead.
  23. Standing in line is a concept completely lost on Italians.
  24. Fanta is not a good substitute for orange juice.
  25. If you suck at time management, giving yourself enough time, being on time, etc. you'll really suck at traveling. ;)
  26. Pigeons will poop on peoples heads in any country....pigeons are just assholes.
  27. Note from a park in Florence: "I just saw a Keanu Reeves and a John Mayer look alike...every country has their version of John Mayer...."
  28. Little Italian kids like to make out, FULL ON PDA.....while on school field trips.
  29. I had no idea how much I loved sausage until I came to Germany.....sausage is a brilliant invention.
  30. Note, Munich in real time: a little German baby just blew me a kiss.
  31. We could take some tips on the importance of family over here in America. Families are most certainly #1 in their lives.
  32. Note from Bavarian restaurant: Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy just came on the radio, I was enjoying my strudel and now I feel like vomiting.
  33. Many of us envy European lives but it's just a lifestyle choice. We can all live European lifestyles if we want, no matter what country we're in.
  34. They actually think we listen to Tom Jones? Does anyone out there seriously listen to Tom Jones?
  35. Fries are a popular staple. Fries with steak, fries with chicken, fries. fries. fries.
  36. Note from Amsterdam in real time: I like to imagine that if I lived here I would buy fresh flowers everyday and keep my shutters open for the sun to pour in. Would I ride a bike? Probably, but very terribly.
  37. What's the deal with half pints? Ordering a full pint in countries where standard beers come in half pints will make you feel like an alcoholic. You'll appreciate the American drinking way.
  38. I'm excited to have a frozen dinner when I get home. (Disclaimer: I'm hoping I was drunk when I wrote this?)
  39. Smile, it helps.
  40. It can be seriously intoxicating to be "semi-anonymous" I understand the urge to perpetually be on the run.....
  41. Always, always buy yourself dessert. Native desserts are an imperative indulgence.
  42. It's time to stop jammin' out to Celine Dion circa 1998.....it's time.
  43. Note from Brussels in real time: I wonder if I were as confident walking around in America as I am here, if I'd meet as many people as I have in Europe......? People, also meaning men.
  44. Waitress' and bartenders are "over it" no matter what country you're in.
  45. People smoke, drink and guzzle caffeine like a motherfucker....we're downing smoothies, vitamins, 8 gallons of water and staying "smoke free" and we're still unhealthy. I wonder if our health has more to do with our minds than our bodies??
  46. I'm so glad we aren't charged for ketchup in the States. Let's celebrate that shall we.
  47. Bathrooms aren't free most of the time....really? What a messed up way of taking advantage of people. I mean, of course I'll pay you 30cents instead of peeing myself.
  48. Coffee is universally welcoming. I'm really disappointed in people who don't love such a friendly beverage.
and in closing in real time from Germany:
In this moment, I am thinking I am SO lucky and so blessed to be, me. I am SO incredibly grateful, more than I have been in a long time. I love that I am genuinely in love with my life and the life I'm creating....it makes me want to pour all of it out and share it with everyone, so they too can feel as genuinely content and happy.

I love that I love being open and exploring and I love that I am truly, in this moment, letting it be.


54 comments:

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LJ said...

Wow Sounds like you had such a amazing trip! Thanks for the tip list!

the almost right word said...

So excited for you and this amazing adventure you are now ending. Loved your Notes from the Road. Have to say, a lot of the things you noticed (i.e. major PDA among high school kids while on field trips or bus-rides, etc. etc.) are totally common in other parts of the world (as in, not in the United States). I spent a year living in South America and it truly was a foreign experience.

Congratulations on your journey!

the almost right word said...

Oh and PS. Looking very HOT in that picture. Europe has clearly treated you well.

Jossie said...

This was an amazing post, its great to see someone enjoying their life as much as you are enjoying yours.

M&M said...

Wow. That post was awesome. I'm so jealous that you got to do what most people only dream of doing (myself included). Looking forward to more good stuff to come!! :]

Tara said...

#14 has been my guiding mantra for years. It has served me well. I love your list. I would love to be able to run off to Europe and live on a whim for a while.

Hillary said...

great post!

the bathroom thing continues to blow my mind whenever I'm in England - 20pence to pee? really? but of course I'm going to pay it.

Steph said...

I absolutely love that picture. Sounds like an amazing time...what a great adventure!

Not The Rockefellers said...

Totally enjoyed each and every one of your notes.

#47 made me choke on my Diet Coke.

Peace - Rene

Jessica said...

I am IN LOVE with this post, and plan to keep a similar notebook when I go abroad next fall.

Could you please elaborate on Italians not wanting to wait in line? Lol.

Seriously, most of the stuff you said is so true, and worded beautifully!

Katelin said...

amazing tips for the road chelsea. sounds like your trip was amazing in every way.

Dolce said...

You are so beautiful. This experience will stay with you forever!

claire said...

I can relate to almost all of these. ah europe, how I miss-but-still-love-to-make-fun-of you. and what an engaging post! I think though, that it's "tuppence," as in two pence.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

AH! The tuppence bit makes sense! lol

the almost right word- thank you! :)

Jessica- It's literally a free for all. Just stand around, butting in line and any other method to get help first is completely acceptable. It's so strange man.

just me said...

Why doesn't someone hire you to be a high paid travel writer?

Jesus. You'd be fabulous.

Starlet aka Minutestar said...

YES, pigeons are assholes! Finally someone agrees with me :)

LOVED your notes! And super jealous of you!

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

Just me- THANK YOU.....any takers? I think I second her thought ;)

mn said...

ha ha, dark bathrooms. friend of mine went to paris twice and said he was like having to move his hands around the wall, while the owners just watched him and didn't bother to tell him where the light switch was.
i think they just wanna see how long it takes for a foreigner to figure it out. that is so amusing. i'll be bring my own flashlight thank you. click. see, so easy, and then there was light.

Caz said...

I love all the quirky differences between countries (like light switches, toilets, etiquitte etc.) It makes travelling so much fun, considering how globalized we are, to find out the little interesting things about different places.

Alexa said...

wanna trade lives?

didn't think so.

keep enjoying it!

sequined said...

These are good real-time observations. And so, so true.

I think "Almost Lover" was pretty big in Germany this past summer. They really like bummer songs, I feel.

sid said...

Holy crap. I had the exact same thoughts. They charge you to use the toilets and to have ketchup? It's friggin ridiculous.

85%ofatruestory said...

Im a 20 year old American living in Spain right now. Reading your blog made me laugh because although I havent been to some of the places, I can completely relate to 99% of the things you said. It really is a beautiful/scary/unique/UNBELIEVABLE journey and its amazing that we can each share our experiences with everyone back home. Good luck and come back sooN!

teabelly said...

I love these comments. It's so funny what you noticed when travelling. I need more cake in my life. Though I had the same exact reaction to men with guns when I as at US customs. They like you to know they have them guns. Freaked me out.

Cecelia said...

Very interesting to read (being European and all)! I do have one question though.
In note #33 you say "Many of us envy European lives but it's just a lifestyle choice. We can all live European lifestyles if we want, no matter what country we're in."

But what is 'the European lifestyle' and how does it differ from the American??

erin said...

Your comments are hilarious! I'm living in Europe now and so many of your notes are true. I love traveling by myself, even with the funny looks I get sometimes.

I find you can get by paying for bathrooms by going into grocery stores or the bigger department store types or museums.

Sara Jane said...

I love all of your notes! I'm so jealous. I could use a life journey!

Baking With Plath said...

Umm, your skin? It's GLOWING.

Sounds like an amazing trip. So jealous.

Ashley said...

How crazy awesome!

I'm curious about how the US election was percieved from what you saw...

ChasingParadise said...

What a beautiful picture of you, Chelsea! I'm really inspired by your travels and hope to one day be able to do the same thing. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

ceclia- Ah, yes. I felt like I needed to elaborate more on that one and I don't want to overgeneralize. BUT, in general....ha, Americans have this idea that Europeans are much more open, they take time to enjoy life- sit have a long dinner with family, they take vacation, stress less, culture is more important to them, FAMILY is more important. And like I said, I don't want to overgeneralize but from traveling and from having a lot of Europeanfriends. I found that this is true.
Americans are much more competitive, WORRIED, stressed....always trying to "do the right thing" instead of living the life they want. I think we're much more judgmental....we're more likely to let family fall apart, we're more likely to do things motivated SOLELY by money rather than our happiness.....which largley has to do with our government and not really having another choice most the time, especialy when we are struggling.

BUT, A lot of those things that us Americans have or do that are negative can also be changed, it's a matter of choice.

THIS REALLY DESERVES A WHOLE BLOG....but did I explain myself at least a little bit better?? I hope so.

freckledk said...

Can't you stay a little longer? I want MORE!

DahlingItsMe said...

Quick comment on number 37 and the half-pint thing... I didn't get it at first, but, having now lived in Paris for 6 years, it is about keeping the beer cold... They have refigerations issues in Europe, as I am sure you noticed...

PS I added you to my blogroll, I hope you don't mind...

Coconut said...

Ah, I can't even come up with words - just feelings! Jealous and excited and wanting to copy you sooo bad!

biscuitinabasket said...

Hey!
Hope you enjoyed your trip - us Europeans don't think you talk funny :)

2 bits to comment on - I always smile when I order food, ice cream coffee etc.... I always get something @:)

Thank god for half pints - not that I drink but some people just cannot handle their drink - and a full pint makes them behave looney!

Lauren said...

Great post! I'm so envious of your trip.

the almost right word said...

Just wanted to let you know that I "awarded" you with a Brillante Premio.

[F]oxymoron said...

This is a great idea! I'm gonna do this for my own RTW trip.

irunwithscissors said...

yay! how fabulous! this is soo great for you! Cute pic!

Miss Marie said...

I vomit whenever I hear the song "Almost Lover" too. Or any song by that girl. Ugh. Stupid Ex.

Bring Your Own Baggage said...

Hey Chelsea!

I love your blog.

I'm so jealous of this crazy adventure you just went on. It makes me reminisce about my study abroad experience. Btw, my self esteem totally took a hit when I got back thanks to your number 19 coupled with number 10. The cat calls are way more frequent in Italy than in America. After a year you get used to it and when its no longer there, you feel surprisingly way less attractive. But then you get over it and feel fabulous again anyway.

Anyway, glad you made it back safe and sound with some amazing stories to tell!

Kyla Bea said...

This list makes me want to go out into the world, and cheer you for your contentment and accomplishment.

You are gorgeous and look like you're spilling over with confidence - Congratulations!!

Smiling really does help, no matter where you are. = )

LuLu said...

What a great way to remember your trip. I missed ice and water when we were in Italy. They think Americans are nuts for drinking so much water. I agree about the health thing. A lot of them seem to have a much better outlook on life. They are healthier because so many of them walk and bike everywhere. Amen to 10.

Cecelia said...

(in reply to your reply to my comment waaay up there...)

though I do agree that you could use an entire entry on that subject I am definitely more clear on what you mean now ;) thanks...

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

lulu- YES THE ICE! I love ice. I appreciate ice so much more now :)

Nicole Elkington said...

haha. this is great!! I love it! I have lived in London and know exactly what you are talking about on most of those!

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

I am a million kinds of jealous of your Europe trip.

If I could afford to take one, I absolutely would.

Princess Pointful said...

I adore the intertwining of universals and country specifics here. I also adore that photo of you... but am wincing at the idea of paying for any condiments at restaurants. The horror!

Mike said...

You haven't yet experienced cat calling in Canada I see.

We use bagpipes.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

The almost right word- THANK YOU!!!!! YAY! CHEERS!

well-intentioned heartbreaker said...

love love love the notes from the road.

you are stellar.

Heather said...

I noticed 24 of the same things when I traveled Europe in June!

lightning in a bottle said...

this list is awesome!

 
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