Chris Smith


Thoughts on life.

Jeremy Goes To Europe

My friend Jeremy flew into Barcelona to join us for a couple of weeks across Spain, Germany and Greece. We had a two part journey from Barcelona to Munich with a stop in Paris and change onto an overnight train.  Since Grant and I are traveling under a group rail pass our seats are automatically placed together.  Unfortunate for Jeremy this meant his were close to us but not together.

When we arrived on the train leaving Barcelona, we thought everything was great.  We were on the second level with nice views, and Jeremy’s seat was just across the aisle from us.  Jeremy’s bad luck seemed to compound maybe by chance or perhaps in payment for his blunt manner of interacting with the locals.  For instance, while waiting for the first trains departure, a well dressed woman walked by whom Jeremy stopped and asked, “Is there wifi?”

She responded, “I don’t know, I don’t work on the train.”

We had a good laugh until the next stop where we changed trains leaving a similar seating situation, though a little more cramped and with an open seat next to Jeremy.  We got off the train to take in the scenery and stretch and returned to find a mother and her newborn baby sitting in (…you guessed it) the seat next to Jeremy.  She asked in half understood spanish if she could take the window seat to which Jeremy obliged.

Much to Jeremy’s liking, the baby began crying before we left the station and he looked over at us in disgust.  It was looking to be a dire train ride until a glimmer of hope emerged for Jeremy.  A young man walked up and looking confused at his ticket asked the woman if she was in the correct seat.  She asked which car we were seated in and realized she was in fact in the wrong seat.  Jeremy’s eyes lit up with hope. A moment went by and the man said if she didn’t mind, he could just take her seat in the other car.  Jeremy’s face sank as he muttered “no, no that’s ok.” to the dying moment of hope.

We had another laugh and I drifted off into a nap.  The baby began crying again and I awoke to the mother breastfeeding the child and a glance of Jeremy’s perturbed face.  A brief snooze later and I awoke again to the mother having trouble mixing the baby formula for the meal.  She handed Jeremy the bottle and began spooning the mixture in as he held it.  He screwed the lid on and gave it a shake.  Another good laugh ensued.

We had quickly booked a hostel on the way out of the 80 degree weather of Barcelona at a place called The Tent in Munich. When we arrived it was raining and 45 degrees and The Tent was an industrial looking steel and plastic hangar.  We walked over to the outdoor check-in counter and paid for one night.  The worker asked if we had sleeping bags and when learning that we didn’t handed us a grand total of 15 blankets, five for the each of us.  

We cringed thinking about the cold night after our marginal night of sleep on the train and walked into the building.  We found over 100 beds in the large room.  We looked at each other with question questioning eyes, and Jeremy glared at me and proclaimed, “Chris, I come here for 2 weeks for vacation to party and have a good time and you book a freezing cold tent 20 minutes outside of the city!?”

We went to the customary German beer halls to prepare for a cold night.  

The next day we checked out and found a hostel in the city.  After a nice German lunch we were waiting for our checks to come when Jeremy finished his beer.  As is customary when Jeremy finishes a beer, he pumped his chest out and his arms spread above his head, elbows bent in a flexing pose.  

What he didn’t notice though was our nice waiter walking by with a cup of coffee for the family sitting next to us.  Jeremy’s elbow hit the plate at the perfect time, launching the cup into the grey plaster wall. The cup shattered onto the floor and the dumbfounded waiter and family grimaced at us.  I gave them an open mouthed, teeth clenched, sorry look and the waiter left promptly to get another coffee.  We continued to wait for the check as an older woman from behind the kitchen came out and scolded Jeremy in German while pointing at and scrubbing the wall.  We paid and left promptly.

We toured around Munich and learned that open wifi was not as common in the city due to the strict rules regarding internet usage and access.  This left us touring around looking for a bar or cafe with wifi.  After exhausting our half hearted will with a few failures and unencoureaging locals, we found an “interesting” looking bar with a free wifi sign.  I must interject that the previous night we had stumbled across a peculiar bar where a guy standing outside was overly friendly and a little touchy.  We assumed it was a gay bar and with, I regret to say, homophobic eyes looked at the bar in front of us in the same way.  It was after all painted all white and a pink logo and decorations.

We questioned each other on how everyone felt and Jeremy stepped off and said “Screw it guys, I’ll go in and ask.”

He walked in to the bar and we timidly followed.  Inside on the right, unseen from out vantage point outside was a group of 4 very straight looking men, one of whom was a 6’5” and 350 pound juggernaut.  We didn’t really notice them until Jeremy uttered the “Is this a gay bar?” question to the bartender.  The bartender and his 4 Albanian friends guffawed in laughter answering no and obviously heckling us as we sat down.

We ordered some beers and awkwardly sat trying to get the wifi to work.  It never did work for us but was apparently worked for the Albanians.  The juggernaut came over to our table and suggested we watch a video about something relating to gay bars in his country.  It turned out to be a group of men standing in the country watching one of them have sex with a goat.  We shuttered out some laughs as the whole group burst out again.

We quickly finished our beers and left.