Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never ventured outside the continental US. Growing up, my family trips were always to exotic locations like Door County, Wisconsin. My first job out of college was at the radio station where I interned senior year. The market had just crashed, so I took the job instead of backpacking through Europe or any of that bullshit.
I heard plenty about everything I was missing out on. “JR, the culture, the food, the PEOPLE. What an eye opening experience!” is what just about every girl I dated in my early twenties would tell me. They were so much more worldly and cultured than me, because they’d ridden the Tube once and given an uncircumcised guy a handjob when they were 19.
I finally bit the bullet and went abroad a few weeks ago to Spain. I consider myself somewhat open minded. Food and drink are two of my vices, and I’m generally tolerant of people, so I was optimistic. I was wrong. Traveling abroad is either overrated, or Spain is just a terrible place to travel to. I went to seven different cities in every region of the country for a dozen days, and everywhere I went it was all the same:
This was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most. Turns out, they only serve four things in Spain: bread, ham, cheese and tomato– for every meal. Eat that for ten days and you’ll start to feel like somebody shot you with a tranquilizer dart. Here’s a picture from the BREAKFAST BUFFET at the hotel. Not an egg in sight.
You only can drink bottled water in Spain. Fair enough. However, on my bottle of water, I noticed next to ‘sodium’ it said 10 mg. I had been feeling like a bag of assholes the entire first week I was there, which I assumed was jet lag. Nope. Turns out I’ve been drinking fucking salt water the whole time. Did I mention it was about a hundred degrees outside?
Breakfast is served at 7 a.m., lunch at 1 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m. For the nine hours in between lunch and dinner you couldn’t find a bite to eat if you went out and hunted it yourself. Apparently they wanted you to go drink more salt water to really work up an appetite. And they don’t believe in regular napkins either.
They even fucked up their version of an American classic
The English language is everywhere in Spain. It’s on the menus; it’s in the hotels and on every sign you see. However, nobody speaks it. My travel companion is halfway decent at Spanish and most of the locals didn’t give her the time a day. One waiter got annoyed when we tried to order in Spanish and walked away, calling us “estupido gringos” to his coworker. I asked my bartender for a vodka soda once (I was dehydrated as shit) and he pretended he’d never heard of vodka, before then pouring me this:
If you’re traveling with a companion, you need to specify this fact to every hotel you go to because you’re given beds that look like this:
Which I guess is the equivalent to a king size bed in Spain? Two twins pushed together? This I was actually cool with because it kept her on her side and I got the most sleep I ever have.
Also, our hotel was playing Christmas music:
Hotel in Ronda is playing Christmas music in September. Get it together, Spain pic.twitter.com/g1ckCTdSY4
— John Hickey (@johnnyjhickey) August 31, 2015
I was shirtless because again, 100 degrees out.
The stereotype is that as Americans, we’re the rude ones. This may surprise a few of you, but Spanish people are complete assholes. It may be my warped sense of self worth, but I was patient and pleasant to everybody I dealt with. I guess Spanish people hate white guys with big dumb faces. Below is how the fat hairy Spanish guy next to me on my flight from Barcelona to Seville used the armrest. Jesus Christ JR, get a tan for me, one time.
Speaking of airlines, the local Southwest Airlines equivalent, Vueling is worse than any Frontier Airlines/Megabus deathtrap I’ve ever experienced. Their tray tables don’t work: They provide enough legroom for a horse jockey: Annnnnnd they left our luggage sitting outside our plane during a rainstorm. That’s okay, I always take my clothes out of the washing machine and wear them wet. Luckily I was able to wring out some rain water from my sleeves to drink, to prevent my kidneys from going into shock. My favorite blue dress was RUINED.
I’m not a father (I hope), so it’s not typically my place to tell someone how to parent. But here’s a brief memo to all the parents in the country of Spain: handle your children. Whether they’re running in the streets at one in the morning, riding their mopeds down sidewalks or just screaming their heads off on a two-hour flight, don’t just sit back and do nothing.
I know I might sound like a spoiled American who’s complaining about his vacation across the world. I probably am doing a little of that. But after four days of the above nonsense, I was ready to be back home, in a country where I can get any type of food I’d like at any time and where I wasn’t treated like a bag of shit if tried to order an agua sin sodio.
My next trip overseas won’t be anytime soon. If you need me, I’ll be spending the rest of my week sitting in air conditioning, watching college football and eating a Cobb salad..