Confessions Of An International Traveler
- I cut in line to get into the Vatican.
- I jumped metro turnstiles in Paris.
- I snuck into Pompeii without paying.
- I overstayed my visa in Ireland and never got caught.
- I let some South African guy on a rented moped drive me home in Goa, India even though I didn’t really know him or where I was going.
- The first time I got drunk and threw up was the first time I was abroad: I was in Prague, and I was 17. I lied and told the people I was with that I had been drunk before, but I hadn’t and I overdid it. I very clearly remember puking, and thinking to myself, “Well, this is stupid.”
- I’ve been to Amsterdam 13 times and still shamefully have never made it to see Anne Frank’s house.
- I ate McDonald’s in Singapore.
- I left a Greek wedding early. (By early, I mean 2 a.m., but the party didn’t end until 7 a.m.)
- I left Australia without ever seeing a kangaroo.
- I went horseback ridding in Argentina after staying up drinking about 12 bottles of malbec the night before. I hadn’t yet slept, and I was fast and reckless, and almost clothes-lined myself on a Eucalyptus tree. That’s what a DUI on a horse looks like.
- I got kicked out of a hooker bar in Panama because some blond Canadian chick that we met at the hostel tried to get drugs.
- The first time I traveled alone I got homesick in the south of Italy, and actually considered leaving one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life. I remember calling my mom from a train station in Naples and crying after.
- I used a shady ATM in Brazil and had $300 stolen from my bank account.
- I was too broke/poor to gamble in Monte Carlo or even get into the casino.
- I ran through Karlsplatz fountain in Munich at about 5 a.m., and I was late for my flight so I didn’t have time to shower. I spent the whole of my trans-Atlantic Lufthansa flight picking leaves out of my hair and smelling like dirty fountain water. And I was in one of the middle seats of row of four.
- I booked tickets for a holiday in Edinburgh for January 1, completely unaware of Hogmanay: one of Europe’s biggest New Years Eve parties. It was like booking a trip to Rio in February and not knowing about Carnival.
- I spent a week in Copenhagen for Easter, but flew into Malmö, Sweden because the Easy Jet flight was cheaper. In my early morning haze, I took out money from an ATM in Sweden, and only realized it was the wrong currency when I got to Denmark, and tried to buy a bottle of water that I desperately needed. A stranger — a middle age woman — bought the water for me even though she couldn’t speak a word of English (and I couldn’t speak a word of Danish). I will never forget that.
- I went on a yoga retreat in Morocco to detox, but I spent the whole trip smoking British cigarettes with a guy from Manchester.
- I accidentally smuggled half a joint on an international flight to Pisa. When I got there, a huge German Shepard jumped all over me and I bent down to play with him because I missed my dog. I only realized what I had done a few days later.
- During a layover in the Narita airport in Japan, I spent $70 dollars on a t-shirt for my sister because Lost in Translationjust came out and she was obsessed with it.
- But I was so out of it from the flight that I couldn’t figure out the exchange rate in my head.
- I cut Milan out of backpacking trip because I had recently watch the Sound of Music and I wanted to go to Salzburg to do the tour. I did it with a bunch of big Australian dudes who gave each other side hugs and sang every word with me. It was awesome.
- I once spent a lot of money on a sapphire at a gemstone market in Thailand because some Canadian guy in a tuk tuk told me that it was a good opportunity. I never got it appraised, but I doubt it was worth it.
- During a road trip through the South Island of New Zealand, I stopped passing cars to ask them which way to Mordor.
- I used my work Blackberry to make calls and use the Internet in South America, the Middle East, and throughout India.
- I snowboarded the Canadian Rockies, but because I was still a beginner, I was too scared at the time to go on anything but green trails. I still consider it a wasted opportunity.
- I spent the Fourth of July in Austria eating Wiener schnitzel.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”