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The Acid Logic Guide to Europe

By Wil Forbis
February 1 , 2007

Rome"EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!" I screamed at the roomful of befuddled diners noshing down on siesta hour tapas in a comfortable eatery in Barcelona, Spain. Having thus garnered their attention I held up my U.S. passport like a policeman might display his badge and continued speaking in a loud voice. "Ladies and gentlemen I need your help. I am an American and I have an emergency! I repeat, I am an American and I have an emergency! Does anyone know where I can find a McDonalds? I repeat, DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND A MCDONALDS???"

My request was met with blank stares interspersed amongst the occasional look of disgust. No one said a word.

"Ok, how about a Starbucks?" I asked. "Can you at least point me to a Starbucks?"




"Do you fuckwads at least have a Toy-R-Us?"

House in BarcelonaAt this point everyone was ignoring me, talking amongst themselves in a foreign language that sounded a bit like Mexican. Clearly I was getting nowhere.

I had been looking forward to my European vacation for months, carefully planning a route that started in Barcelona and ended in Athens, Greece , with numerous stops in France and Italy along the way. But never in my wildest dreams had I imagined people would be so backwards as to not have at least a Toys-R-Us. What was this, Planet Caveman? I was starting to question why I'd even come here.

Of course, I reminded myself, I'd come to Europe for only reason any American would come to Europe: to use the experience to prove to friends back home how much more sophisticated I was to them. "You know this salt shaker reminds me of a statue I saw in Nice. Or wait, was it Rome? Gosh darn it; I can't remember if it was Nice or Rome. No, I'm sorry, it was Patras. That's a small town in Greece. Yes, it was Patras. Perhaps you'll be there one day. Heh, unlikely, but possible." Or, “But baby, this is how all Europeans have sex.”

Giant PenisWith that, my faith was renewed and I decided I was doing the right thing. As such, I let the "emergency" pass and settled down for some standard Spanish cuisine. It waren't no Quarter Pounder with Cheese but it wasn't bad. And Barcelona had a few interesting things to offer. The work of architect Antonio Gaudi was everywhere, from the Gaudi Cathedral to the famous Park Guell. (Almost as famous as the famous Barcelona Museum of Erotic Art which featured the largest wooden penis I've seen since the last time I looked in my pants.) 

But I was in Barcelona only for a few days before I and my traveling companion Robert (NO, WE ARE NOT HOMOS!) boarded a train across the Southern Coast of France. We stopped in Montpellier which turned out to be a pleasant town filled with beautiful women, and then Nice (pronounced "Nees") which turned out to be very nice (pronounced "nice.") Our best stop on this leg of the trip turned out to be Monte Carlo where a 78 year French expatriate took us on a whirlwind tour of a country so small it could fit in the trunk of a Buick.

Then it was on to Italy . Our first stop was Milan, home to runway supermodels and late night ristorantes. We stopped for a taste of each and also made our way into the central Doumo, a gigantic church covered with (not gothic but whatever art movement it's in) statues and artwork. I also explored an archaic Fort designed as a final holdout against encroaching invaders or American tourists.

Next was Venice. I hadn't really considered adding the fabled city atop the water to the trip until I'd seen the recent James Bond flick “Casino Royale” that used Venice as the backdrop of its denouement. Easily the most unique city of the trip, it was a cavernous labyrinth of tiny corridors and green/blue canals.

From Venice we headed westward towards Rome. This metropolis, center of one of the great empires of human history, is a treasure trove for any history-phile. The fabled Coliseum, the ruins of Palatino, the Pantheon, and the Pope's crib, Vatican City are all within easy walking distance of each other. Along the way you have a view of the river Tiber, some extremely bad graffiti, and more gelato shops than you can shake a anchovy at. Rome reminded me a bit like New York in the '70s: possessing a pronounced charmed but desperately in need of a Giuliani to clean the place up.

Dead Guy in PompeiiFrom there I took a day to go south towards the famous city of Pompeii whose population and buildings were cast in lava by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 69 AD. I got off the train and walked into a barren husk of a city comprised of barely standing, decrepit structures. "My god, this endless devastation is horrible. How terrible it would have been to be living here that fateful day." Then a passerby informed me this was the current, quite active city of Pompeii and that the ruins were a few kilometers to the left. So I walked there and discovered a city of ruins that was quite pleasant actually. Kind of quiet. I stumbled across the teatro where Pink Floyd performed their classic "Live in Pompeii" performance, and made friends with several of the stray dogs who lived amongst the ghosts.

AcropolisFrom there I made my way to Bari, on the eastern Italian Coast, and rejoined Robert. We caught a ferry to Patras Greece , a nice little town that reminds one of Maui. From there we headed to Athens. This classic city turned out to be the most enjoyable one of the trip. Like Rome it held numerous artifacts but with  far less grime. And the women!  A sea of gorgeous girls with that particular Greek look. (Jessica Alba  has it.) Robert and I ascended the Acropolis, caught the weekend nightlife in the Monastiraki district and I viewed a Dali exhibition at the Byzantine Museum, got a good look at the fascinating Athens War Museum and heard the plucky sounds of the traditional Oud and Bouzouki in the tiny Athens Museum of Popular Instruments.

Sleeping Swan in ZurichBut the fun wasn't over. On my way back to the states I stopped over night in Zurich, Switzerland . With the sun coming up over the translucent Lake Zurich, I chatted with swans, walked the cobblestone streets and yes, finally found a Starbucks.

If I learned anything on this trip, it's that people are pretty much the same all over. Like Americans, Europeans don't like being poked, laughed at or tickled without warning. They don't like it when you try to ride their dog or stick bubblegum in their children's hair. (I even heard some mention of the “ugly American” but with my George Cloony-esque looks I knew this was no way this talk could be referring to me.) And I daresay I found this a bit heartwarming. In these days of supposedly separation between our great continents it's nice to know Europeans tolerate a jerk about as well as Americans.

You know, the pen I'm using to write this article (at a Starbucks) reminds of a column in the Temple of Zeus in Athens. Or wait, was it the Arc of Constantine next to the Coliseum in Rome?


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Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email -

Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.

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