Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Inspiration on fabric

T-shirt sentiments:


"There's no sense in being pessimistic. It wouldn't work anyway."

Hi ho, hi ho . . .

It's my second day of work today. The students come in two days. Yesterday I only pressed snooze twice, I think. (That's a victory for me.) Today I must have accidentally turned off my alarm in my asleepawake state. I got up at 6:19 instead of 5:30. Oops. Luckily, I had given myself a big time cushion; I didn't have to be here until 8:00 today.

So I rolled out of bed, turned on my phone, and called Monaca. We've developed a plan to call each other at 5:30 every morning to make sure we're awake. Good plan, in theory, but difficult in practice if both of you oversleep. A very sleepy Monaca answered on the third ring. I hope she didn't go back to sleep after I hung up. . . .

I'd better get my act together before Thursday--at that point I'll need to be at work at 7:00, so accidentally turning off my alarm would be catastrophic.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Tired. Happy. Throat is sore.

I had an awesome time at Six Flags with Monaca, Julie, Mike, and Emma. There were practically no lines for any of the rides; I think the longest we waited was 10 minutes or so. We went on every roller coaster except Iron Wolf (I'm glad we skipped that one). We screamed a lot (especially Monaca, who made it sound like she was dying a slow and painful death), and some of us made fools of ourselves (you know who you are). Emma was cute, of course. It wasn't really that hot, and the sky was gray for most of the day, but we still went to Hurricane Harbor. I enjoyed it quite a bit--it's impressive! I especially liked the wave pool, because when I was treading water out in the deep part, I could almost imagine I was out beyond the shorebreak at Waimea Bay. Almost.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wakey, wakey!

So, Monday is the only day this week that I've succeeded in getting up at 5:30. But rather than mope about my laziness, I'm reveling in my final days of sleepdom. AND I'm going to Six Flags Great America/Hurricane Harbor tomorrow. Now THAT'S an awesome way to end the summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I take that back. I'm a failure.

I lost the battle against my comfy bed this morning. Didn't get to work until 12:30. Sigh. I'm working on it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I'm a lunatic.

Okay, I know this is crazy, but I'm at work this week--even though I don't have to be here until next Monday. I know what you're all thinking:

"Wendy, you're such an overachiever. I idolize you."

or maybe it's more like:

"You twisted perfectionist."

Actually, it's probably:

"Woman, get a life."

At any rate, here's my explanation: I have always had a hard time getting up on time. My bed is just so comfortable, especially when Steve and Jackson are there too. And sleep is so wonderful. I usually press snooze at least four times before getting up, which means I end up with about fifteen minutes to shower and get out the door. Well, this year, school starts at 7:30 (I know, it's inhumane), which means I have to be there at 7:00. I didn't want the transition to be quite as shocking, so I decided to start my school schedule this week--so I can get acclimated. So I'm up at 5:30, out the door at 6:30, and in my classroom by 7:00.

Hopefully I won't spend hours every day at school this week. However, it's difficult for me to stop working on something once I've started it. I've been here for five hours today. I've got to leave. My hours of freedom are rapidly dwindling.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Funny/disturbing Holiday Inn sign:

"Call us for your next affair to remember."

I don't think they thought that out very well.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Countries Monaca and I Visited This Summer

create your personalized map of europe

mardi, le 2 aout 2005

16:00 (London time)

Didn't do much in London yesterday; didn't have time. Sat in Kensington Park for a while, watching kids playing soccer and commenting on the people going by. Monaca and I have started making up life stories for everyone we see. It's quite amusing--to us, at least. Probably wouldn't be to the people if they knew.

Went to a pub last night. Laughed at some people and were creeped out by others. Spoke French with the flirty, French, full-of-himself bartender. (Like the alliteration?)

Sad to be going home. Can't wait to see Steve, Jackson, and my friends, though.

It's been an extraordinary experience.

lundi, le 1 aout 2005


On an airplane now, headed to London. This will be our last day and night before flying back to Chicago. Very bittersweet--I miss Steve and Jackson terribly, but there's so much left to absorb in Europe. Oh well; I guess I'll just have to come back soon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

dimanche, le 31 juillet 2005


Got to Dublin at 13:30, leaving us with a measly 24 hours, when what we'd planned for was 72. Took a bus to the city, passing hordes of jersey-clad people on their way to a hurling match (a traditional Irish sport--also a boon for the country's doctors, as it's very rough). Then walked to our hotel, checked in with the genial proprietor, and headed off to explore the city.

We walked through the grounds of Trinity College. The grass is beautiful, primarily because there are numerous signs saying to stay off it. Unfortunate.

Walked down cobblestoned pedestrian Grafton Street--touristy and expensive, but picturesque.

Went to St. Stephen's Green and sat for a while, talking and people watching.

Walked through Temple Bar--anticlimactic but okay.

Walked down the River Liffey toward the ocean, but Monaca wanted to look for a gift for her grandma, so we turned back before we saw it. :(

Went to an awesome pub, complete with low, heavy-beamed ceiling; brick archways; dim lighting; trad (live traditional Irish music); and a thoroughly Irish crowd. Definitely one of the most memorable experiences of the trip for me. Impossible to put into words.

Looked for mead for Monaca to bring home, but apparently the traditional Irish "drink of kings" isn't very well-known in Ireland.

Pub-hopped over to Grafton Street again, searching unsuccessfully for pub grub. (Apparently the "authentic" Irish pubs in the U.S. aren't; food is not normally served at most pubs.) Finally, in desperation, went to an Italian restaurant on Dame Street. Walked back to our hotel in the rain.

Loved every minute of the day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

samedi, le 30 juillet 2005


Still in Beauvais, waiting out the day and another night until we go back to the airport and see if we can make it on a flight.

It’s boring and ugly here. We went to Auchan (a nearby supermarket) to get food for the day. I got stung by a wasp while we were sitting outside in plastic lawn furniture, eating our breakfast. I took a long midday nap. We’ve spent most of the day sleeping, eating, writing, and reading. I’m just ready to be done with this. It’s so discouraging.

Went out for drinks and fromage blanc at a nearby restaurant this evening. I had kir for the first time in seven and a half years. Yum.

Then came back to the hotel; pet the resident dog, Vox (owned by the hotel owner); talked to Eva, a little Irish girl who’s stuck here with her family; and played football (soccer) with Monaca and Vox. Experiences like these make our situation bearable.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Here's an e-mail Steve sent out, at my request, to friends and family, informing them of our situation:

Wendy and Monaca need some prayer. They have encountered the first speed bump in a fantastic trip they have had so far. They are currently stuck in France, when they should be in Ireland! Their airline cancelled their flight to Ireland from Paris yesterday, which left them stuck there. To make matters worse, the airport is not actually in Paris, but instead in a yucky industrial area with bad hotels and nothing to do. Wendy called me from a bad hotel that smelled like smoke and paint. Needless to say they were most excited to see the British Isles and will only be there for a couple of days, rather than the 5 days originally planned. To make matters worse, the airline was not willing to pay for any inconvienience they caused their passengers. Apparently, this is normal for European "customer service," or lack thereof. Currently, they are on a waiting list for the next flight to Dublin (tomorrow morning) which will leave them with about 3 hours of light in Ireland rather than 3 days. That is not the only issue, as if they don't make this flight they would be in danger of missing their flight to London and, therefore, their flight back to Chicago. You might ask, "Why didn't they just fly to London?" Good question, however the airline was not willing to give them a credit for their flight from Dublin to London, so that didn't work out.The bottom line is that they need prayer that they will be patient and find the joy in the unfortunate situation they find themselves in, as well as get their way home safely. Thanks for your prayer and I will try to keep everyone posted as to how things are going.

samedi, le 30 juillet 2005

2:40 A.M.

So like I said, yesterday the day got worse as it progressed. After a long wait for the bus to bring us the hour to Beauvais airport, it became apparent that our flight to Dublin was delayed. Then they made an announcement that the flight was cancelled. Now get this: RyanAir said we'd probably not be able to get another flight for FIVE DAYS. We're supposed to be back in Chicago in less than five days, and before that, we have to take a RyanAir flight from Dublin to London in order to catch our flight back to the U.S. RyanAir does not rebook you on the next available flight on any possible airline, as carriers in the U.S. do. They do not even make an effort to rebook you on a RyanAir flight. They do not give you money for food or lodging. They do not pay for transportation between your hotel and the airport, which is in Bhufu. Our only options were:

1) reimbursement for the Paris-to-Dublin flight, or
2) wait-listing for a flight in two days.

The former option has definite drawbacks. RyanAir would, in that case, not provide us with a flight to London or refund our tickets from the RyanAir flight we'd miss from Dublin to London. (Don't ask me how this is legal.) We'd also have to rebook on another airline (astronomical prices at such late notice) or take the train to Calais and then a ferry to England. Don't know how much either of those would cost.

For now, we've taken option #2. Here are the downsides: We're stuck in Beauvais, because we couldn't afford another bus trip out here from Paris in two days (you've got it--RyanAir won't pay). We're staying at a factory-esque hotel that we have to pay for. We'll have to pay for a taxi back to the airport from wherever it is we are. We aren't even guaranteed a flight on Sunday; we're wait-listed. Oh, by the way, we couldn't stay in the airport, because they closed it at 1:00 A.M. Again, I have no idea how (or if) this is legal. It's outrageous. I never thought I'd say this, but here goes: This would never happen in the U.S. You'd better believe the airline would be paying for ASAP rebookings, hotel rooms, and food.

I'm so disappointed that we're going to miss most (or all) of our scheduled time in Ireland; that's the place both of us were looking forward to most. I'm praying we'll have no more travel snafus, or else we very well may miss our flight back to Chicago.

I never imagined, when booking our flights, that we were playing the lottery. I didn't think airplane travel was supposed to be a big gamble; I figured that paying the airline for a ticket meant that they would ensure you would reach your destination somehow. I mean, if you want repeat customers, you need to provide good service--and care in the case of unexpected circumstances. Even though RyanAir is very inexpensive, I will never fly with them again. Making sure I get somewhere is too important.

One good thing has come of this: We've gotten to spend a lot of time with Irish people, and I can now say they may be my favorite people on earth. All night, there has been such a feeling of community and caring. They still joke and try to stay upbeat. Even though their situations may be even worse than yours (like the husband and wife who were supposed to pick up their daughter at summer camp in rural Ireland tomorrow), they still have sympathy for you. It's inspiring.

At one point, Monaca broke out her football (soccer ball) and we kicked it around in a circle with a group of Irish children--such a great memory.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

vendredi, le 29 juillet 2005


Yesterday, after visiting Notre Dame and Ile de la Cite, we went to l'Arc de Triomphe, then the Tour Eiffel. There, Monaca and I had some much-needed (though frustrating) time apart, due to a disagreement we resolved fairly quickly.

It had been raining on and off all day, which Monaca loved--she hadn't seen real rain literally in months. We ascended the Tour Eiffel (all the way to the top), just as another storm blew in, whipping rain sideways as we left the warmth and shelter of the lower observation deck for the balcony. Couldn't see much, and couldn't take panoramic shots of the Paris sprawl, but it was memorable.

After the Tour Eiffel, we went to a Let's Go-recommended creperie, La Crepe en L'Isle. The crepes, galettes, and wine were amazing and affordable. So much so, in fact, that we went there again for lunch today.

Monaca and I went back to see the Tour Eiffel last night. It was breathtaking, its beauty unaffected by the hordes of men selling kitsch (e.g., Eiffel Tower keychains, Eiffel Tower lighters, Eiffel Tower figurines, acrylic Eiffel Tower figurines that flashed different colors, flashing Eiffel Tower lighters . . .).

We ate a snack of olives and beer--two items that seem to have become staples of our diet. Going back toward our hotel, I got mixed up about which metro line we were on (long story), so we ended up getting off the metro, switching directions, getting off after another couple stops, then finally realizing the error and switching directions again. Quite the adventure; we laughed through it.

Today, we checked out and left our bags at the hotel. After a delicious breakfast of croissants and pain au chocolat, we headed for Sacre Coeur, where we marveled at the facade, with live harp music wafting over us from the observation deck overlooking Paris. Inside, we got to observe mass--quite amazing.

Moulin Rouge was our next stop; we only came out of the metro long enough to take a couple pictures of the rather unimpressive venue.

After lunch, we went to the Jardins de Luxembourg, where we sat for a couple hours, reading and watching little kids sail boats around in the fountain. I thought a lot about Dad--the time he spent in the Jardins as a kid.

The day got worse from there, but you'll hear more about that in my next entry. By the way, I'll be on a youth-group camping trip for the next three days, so my next entry will be on Monday.

Funny memory:
-sitting in a creperie in Paris, lip-synching to "I Will Always Love You," by Whitney Houston

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

jeudi, le 28 juillet 2005


Now we know why RyanAir is so cheap! We flew into Paris Beauvais, which isn't even in Let's Go, and which seems to be used exclusively by cheapo airlines. A bus ticket into Paris cost 13E per person one way.

Our bus driver took more than an hour to get us to Porte Maillot (in Paris), partly because of a roadblock, but largely because Beauvais isn't anywhere near Paris. After three metro rides, we arrived at St. Georges, the stop for our hotel (Perfect Hotel). We didn't have the best map, but after asking a grocery-story stocker for directions, we finally arrived at the hotel. It was 12:30 at night.

As is our custom, we were drenched in sweat and parched with thirst. We got drinks from the vending machine (by the way, they sell beer in vending machines in Europe), took showers, and went to bed.

So far today we've been in Notre Dame and done the circuit of Ile de la Cite. Now we're sitting at a cafe by Pont Neuf, drinking beverages apparently worth their weight in gold (4E for 7Up, 4E for beer).

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

mercredi, le 27 juillet 2005


Saw something interesting today. Monaca and I came out of our hotel (which is in an alley) to see a lady and man standing there. Before we really knew what was going on, the lady squatted down. We were still a little confused, until the lady started peeing. THE LADY WAS SQUATTING TO PEE IN THE ALLEYWAY. How gross is that? We didn't really know what to do--should we go back inside? walk the other way? just keep walking toward them, acting like nothing weird was going on? We wordlessly decided on the last option, since that was the direction we needed to go. The guy with the lady was so embarrassed. I don't blame him. But maybe she just really had to go. I now know what that's like.

This afternoon, Monaca and I picked up our bags from Hotel Mignon (they let us leave them there all day!) and headed for the vaporetto stop at the Ponte Rialto. When we got to the bus depot at Piazza le Roma, we had about an hour and a half to wait till our bus came. We got some water (half a liter for Monaca, a liter and a half for me), which we quickly finished; then we stretched out on the grass in the shade. When it was time to board the bus, I started to feel the as-yet feeble complaint of a filling bladder. (A liter and a half of water--DUH.) As the bus ride approached the half-hour mark, my need was getting dire. I went searching for a restroom and found it on the first floor of the bus, but it was out of service! I was starting to be in pain. I seriously considered pleading with the driver to stop so I could find somewhere to pee. I eventually told Monaca to stop talking to me, because I needed to concentrate on not wetting myself. The pain intensified, and I started wondering if I would make it. No sitting position alleviated my pain. Monaca jokingly offered me an empty cracker jar, but it started seeming like a feasible option. The way I saw it, there were three possibilities:

1) I would wet my pants,
2) I would pee in the jar, or
3) my bladder would explode.
You know it's bad when your best option involves humiliating yourself in a very public manner.

We pulled into the airport just in time. I was the first person off that bus (I may have exited before it came to a complete stop), and I walked, hunched over, into the terminal, searching for a sign directing me to the toilets. I truly believe I got there just in time. If our bus ride had been five minutes longer, I would have used the jar.

mardi, le 26 juillet 2005


In Venice now. Stayed in Rome's Ciampino airport last night, as we had a very early flight. After the short flight and an hourlong bus ride from Treviso airport into Venice, we took a vaporetto (public-transportation boat) to the Ponte Rialto. We headed off in search of our chosen hostel, which is run by the largest Protestant church in Venice. Had trouble finding the place through the winding streets and alleys, and Monaca's back was hurting her, so it wasn't the most enjoyable walk.

When we finally got there, the guy at reception informed us that they only had one bed left. We were so tired and desperate. We looked at each other and nodded. "Can we share the bed?" we asked. He told us we couldn't. Downtrodden, we sat on a bridge outside their courtyard and stared into space for a while. Our second-choice hostel was literally across the city (and across the Grand Canal). So we looked at our trusty Let's Go guide again. (Side note: I HIGHLY recommend Let's Go guides to anyone wanting to travel anywhere.) We found a hotel that was slightly closer than our second-choice place, so we set off again; again, we got lost.

When we finally got there, we were sweaty, tired, in pain, and almost out of hope. I think we were both picturing us huddled in a doorway that night. The receptionist told us they didn't have room, but he got on the phone and spoke in rapid Italian for a few seconds.

Here's a probable transcript of the conversation:
Receptionist: "Hey, Giuseppe."
Giuseppe: "What's going on, Paolo?"
R: "I've got two crazy American girls here who look like they've just been regurgitated by an angry whale. I don't want them staying in my hotel, but I know you're a pretty nice guy. Would you be willing to take them off my hands?"
G: "You say they're American?"
R: "Yes, and they look horrible."
G: (sigh) "Well, I'd rather not; it's not great for business. But I don't want their blood on my hands. Send them over."
R: "Thanks, man. You're a peach."

The receptionist told us he had found us a room. We were so grateful, even though we assumed the other hotel would be in Bhufu and would cost us several hundred euros. Must to our surprise, the receptionist told us to walk to the end of the street, turn left, and we'd see the sign for Hotel Mignon. We couldn't thank him enough. And I'm sure he couldn't thank God enough that we were out of his hotel.

"Giuseppe" at Hotel Mignon responded to my feeble "Parla inglese?" with a smile and asked us if we were the two people sent over from the other hotel. When I nodded, he said, "Well, the best I can do is 60 euros total." That was WAY cheaper than we were expecting. We heartily agreed, and he showed us to our room.

Unless you've traveled the way we have, I don't know if you can understand the depth of gratitude you feel for human kindness or the appreciation you have for the most commonplace amenities. Our room had two twin beds, bedside lamps, a mirror, a FULL BATHROOM all to ourselves, and AIR CONDITIONING. We practically wept with thanks.

I did laundry (Hallelujah!) in the sink while Monaca took a shower and a BATH (!), and then we switched. After a few minutes spent staring at our blessed air-conditioning unit (which we could control!), a nap, and a snack, we were quite refreshed.

Venice is amazing as usual. Impossible not to get lost, but it's Venice--that's part of the experience.

Monaca and I have decided that we should have had someone shoot a reality TV show about our trip. It would have been absolutely hilarious--definitely entertaining. We didn't know how funny and weird we were going to end up being on this trip. Our show would have been the most popular one on Thursday-night television. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2005

lundi, le 25 juillet 2005


Funny memories:

-me taking a picture in the Vatican Museum and a guard stepping in the shot because he wanted to be in the picture

-free Red Bull during the hottest part of the day

-a guard sleeping on duty in the Vatican Museum

-pretending to have French (me) and southern-white-trash-black (Monaca) accents

-Monaca touching gum on a railing in the Vatican Museum

-Monaca putting a bag down on gum covered with ants, finding gum on a bench, and stepping in gum--all within a five-minute span

-the guy who sold Monaca shot glasses in a souvenir shop (he was hilarious)

-the French guy working at the hostel, whom Monaca insisted had a crush on me. "He was enthralled in your French conversation. I'm kind of jealous. I wish I knew French."

-the French guy cracking up while telling us the story about the guitar player with a "muppet" in Belfast. "I really have some stiff competition."

-another story from the French guy: buying a beer in Rome and having the shopkeeper ask for 3E50, thinking he was a tourist. "You've got to be joking."

-watching a couple get engaged at Trevi Fountain (the girl didn't seem excited)

Saturday, August 6, 2005

dimanche, le 24 juillet 2005


Today has been . . . interesting. The saga began with us "sleeping" in the Geneve airport last night. We took shifts, which meant that Monaca slept about two hours, and I slept about one. Wendy not happy when Wendy no sleepie.

Our flight arrived in Rome at 8:00 A.M., and we stood in a long line for police border check. We finally got through and got on a bus from Ciampino airport to Anangina. From there we took metro line A to Ottaviano, the stop for our hostel (Pensione Ottaviano). Now, keep in mind that we hadn't bathed in quite some time and had hardly slept. It was sweltering hot as we walked, searching for the hostel.

When we finally found it, we were thoroughly hot and thoroughly tired. We checked in, hoping for a double, only to find ourselves assigned to a six-person dorm room (praying that the other four people were female). Then the people who checked us in told us we had to leave until 2:30 P.M., a good five hours later. Needless to say, we were disappointed; we had wanted to sleep.

So we got lemon gelato and headed to Piazza San Pietro, where we people-watched for a while, trying to avoid eye contact with the leering polizia who kept circling on their Lamborghini golf cart. Then we went souvenir hunting for a while, as Monaca's family expects souvenirs. After this, Monaca mentioned that she had to use the bathroom, so we set off in search of a potty and a grocery store. After much wandering, we found the latter. Our relief, however, was short lived, as the store seemed to carry only food that needed to be cooked. So we gathered what we could and headed off again, Monaca still attesting to a full bladder and an aching back.

Rome seems short on grassy, shady areas--and on public restrooms. I finally made Monaca prioritize: Which was a more immediate need--a bathroom, or a place to sit? She chose the latter. We finally found a scrubby patch of brittle grass in patchy shade, next to the Castel Sant'Angelo. We settled down to a . . . peculiar lunch of lettuce (no dressing), a plastic-wrapped slab of Fontina cheese, olives, and raw gnocchi. Mmmmm. We had three unopened, warm bottles of beer, which we realized (too late) didn't have twist-off caps. They remain unopened.

At last, 2:30 rolled around. By now, both of us had just about run out of patience for one another and for our situation. We set off in the direction of our hostel, only to realize, to our dismay (and after much walking), that Castel Sant'Angelo and its grounds are a very effective fortress--there's only one exit. We finally found our way out . . . only to find ourselves thoroughly lost.

At this point, I was exhausted, as hot as I've probably ever been, and filthy. I was not a happy camper. I was sick of being the one trying to navigate us around the picturesque (read confusing) and winding roads of Rome. Comments like "Aren't we supposed to go this way?" and "Do you want me to look at the map?" were not well received by me. At one point, I threw up my hands and dropped my head, moaning, "I give up!" I just wanted to sit down and morph into another statue to add to Rome's already burgeoning collection.

At long last, we found our way and I, no longer harboring a shred of decorum or vanity, drenched my sweat-soaked head in a drinking fountain. When we arrived at the hostel, I couldn't undress and get in a cold shower quickly enough. I felt so much better. After a four-hour nap, during which I think I went into a coma, Monaca and I were ready to be civil with each another once more.

samedi, le 23 juillet 2005


On the way from Geneve to Annecy (in France) for a day trip. We leave tomorrow for Rome.

Friday, August 5, 2005

vendredi, le 22 juillet 2005


Monaca and I are currently sitting in the Jardin Anglais, where the Rhone flows out of Lac Leman. They have music festivals here every evening throughout the summer. They have all these tents serving drinks, kebabs, etc. The music is almost exclusively American. So far we've heard "At the Hop," "Twist and Shout," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "Money for Nothing" . . . It's pretty funny. We're sitting on the grass with our 250-ml. cans of Heineken (cheaper than soda), listening to the music and the splashing of a fountain, watching traffic go by and the sun slowly descending. Heavenly.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Funny Quotes, Europe 2005

Monaca and I made a point of writing down funny quotes we heard or said over the course of our trip. They may or may not be funny (or even comprehensible) to others, but perhaps you'll enjoy some of them.

Wendy: "rigamarole"

Wendy: "heebie-jeebies"

Monaca: "kosher"

Wendy: "It made me funny." ("It made me laugh.")

Monaca & Wendy: "I'm sitting on a cow couch." (sung to the tune of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas")

"Look--a cow!" (Drunk American girl, echoed by Swiss guy)

"Maybe you should just stand by the cow." (Drunk American girl)

Monaca: "He's British."
Wendy: "How do you know?"
Monaca: "Look at his shorts. Only a Brit would wear shorts like that."
Wendy: "And with those shoes and socks."
Monaca: "Exactly. Take a picture."

Wendy: "Look at those rollerblades."
Monaca: "Take a picture."

Wendy: "Look at that girl's mohawk."
Monaca: "Take a picture."

Wendy: "Look at that guy's shirt."
Monaca: "Take a picture."

Monaca: "Can I take a picture?"

Wendy: "Look at that cow."
Monaca: "Take a picture."
Wendy: "Okay. Act like you're milking it."

Wendy: "I dare you to pick John Calvin's nose."

Monaca: "Why don't you move up a seat? Lots of people are getting on at this stop."

Monaca: "If I were going to commit suicide, I wouldn't do anything boring. I'd throw myself in [the jet d'eau] or something.

Monaca: "That looks like snow."
Wendy: "Mmm-hmm."
Monaca: "Take a picture. We can say we hiked through snow."

Wendy: "I don't really speak Italian."
Monaca: "Well, I don't speak at all."

Wendy: "Is this water drinkable?"
Monaca: "I'm drinking it."

Wendy: "Look--this is a bathroom. I just thought it was a random door."
Monaca: "Yeah, well, I tried to open that door."

Wendy: "I'm tired, I'm hot, and I'm irritable."

"There's always a good reason to fight in England." (Irish guy)

"You want to play now?" (Vatican guard, motioning to Monaca's football [soccer ball])

"Non toccare. Do not touch. Do not touch." (Vatican guard)

Monaca: "This reminds me of when I was younger, and my grandma used to make gnocchi and I would eat them raw."
Wendy (30 seconds later): "These taste kinda like dirt."
Monaca: "I don't know; I've never had dirt before."
Wendy: "Well, neither have I, but it probably tastes like this."
Monaca: "Well, I like them."

"That's different." (British man running through the wind & rain at the top of the Eiffel Tower)

Monaca: "It's pretty hard to annoy me."
Wendy: "I think I've succeeded."
Monaca: "When you've been trying?"

Wendy: "I feel like I just won at the world's biggest slot machine." (watching the Eiffel Tower start sparkling at night)

Monaca: "Probably only the rich people come here at night. You know--the people who drink martinis and . . . eat real meals."

Monaca: "I was trying to think of something that real people do." (she meant rich people)

"Do you want another Celebration, or do you just want a picture of them?" (12-year-old Irish boy)

"You've probably seen other members of my group. You know, suspicious-looking characters--probably terrorists." (kind old Irish man on a pilgrimage)

"That's very sensible of you." (kind old Irish man)

Irish man: "Did you stay long in Paris?"
Wendy: "No. Just a couple of days."
Irish man: "That's very sensible of you. It's a horrible place."

"It's a bank holiday in Ireland this weekend, so lots of places will be closed on Monday. But don't worry--the pubs'll be open." (different old Irish man)

Wendy: "Ca va si nos bagages sont dans l'autre bus?"
Bus-depot guy: (long silence; he's staring at me sternly)
Wendy: "J'espere?"
Bus-depot guy: "Il faut esperer--esperer que l'autre bus ne tombe pas en panne; qu'il ne se bascule pas; qu'il ne s'explose pas. Si non, c'est cool." (smiles)

Wendy: "Is it okay if our bags are on the other bus?"
Bus-depot guy: (long silence; he's staring at me sternly)
Wendy: "I hope?"
Bus-depot guy: "You'd better hope--hope that the other bus doesn't break down; that it doesn't tip over; that it doesn't explode. Otherwise, it's cool." (smiles)

"I wish they had a cat museum." (Eva, a little Irish girl, commenting on how Paris could be improved)

"I'm beginning to hate this country a bit." (Eva, commenting on being stuck in France after our flight to Ireland was canceled)

Monaca: "You're an ostrich; your brain is smaller than your head."

"I like the accent. Savage." (Irish guy, commenting on Monaca's American accent)

Monaca: "Those aren't statues? I thought they were statues." (commenting on street performers)

Monaca: "I have a nose for bacon."

Wendy: "That's the second time we've ignored a door that turns out to contain a shower."

Monaca: "That's okay; these pants are used to being wet."

Monaca: "I just dropped a pound." (referring to the UK's monetary unit)

10 Ways to End a Friendship while Backpacking in Europe

10. Snap at your friend about travel issues that are completely out of her control.
9. If your friend is a cat lover, repeatedly tell her how much you hate cats and wish they all would die.
8. Do things that will keep your friend awake at night (e.g., snore, snuggle with her).
7. Answer a simple question with a snide remark (e.g., "Is this water drinkable?" "I'm drinking it.")
6. Call your friend hypocritical and insensitive in the same conversation.
5. Leave the France guidebook in Italy, before getting on a plane for Paris. (This is the only item on the list that didn't actually happen.)
4. Keep talking to your friend even after she tells you to shut up because she needs to concentrate on not peeing her pants.
3. When lost, ask highly annoying questions, such as: "Are you sure we're going the right way?" and "Do you want me to look at the map?"
2. Tell your friend a meal tastes like dirt right after she says it reminds her of food her grandma used to make.
1. Tell your friend that what she just did should go on this list.