Monthly Archives: April 2016

2015 was Epic – Part 5

…continued from Part 4.

When we finally made it to Sofia, it was past midnight and the train station was closed, despite the arrival of trains.  You may be thinking that this means that the vendors are closed up and the ticket windows are dark.  What it means in Bulgaria is that ALL of the lights are off, all of the informative signs have been put away, there are zero employees and if someone stabs you, you will die because no one will find you until the morning.  If our trip was depicted in a cartoon, this would be the part when a tumbleweed blows by.

Maybe six other people got off the train with us and they seemed to know the route, so we just followed them with our fingers crossed.  We quickly realized that we were underground as we marched through this sketchy tunnel that immediately gave me the feeling of being led to a gas chamber.  Once we made it to open air without having our organs removed and sold to the black market, we were immediately met by robust men repeating “taxi” like they had Tourettes.

*Traveling Tip: Never use the cab drivers that are at the train stations.  Walk a few blocks away and pick up a cab, then make sure that they turn the meter on.  When possible, have the hostel arrange a taxi pick-up for you.

We said no to the taxi men, but I will admit that these mother-fuckers were pretty intimidating.  When you imagine a Bulgarian, that’s exactly how they were.  Those dudes had definitely cut off a finger or two in their time.  Possibly ripped out a human heart with their bare hands.  We hadn’t arranged for a place to stay in Sofia because it was a sort of last minute change of plans.  We spotted a Marriott sign off in the distance, so the three of us, and all of the wild fucking dogs, walked toward the light.

What stuck with me was how dark the city was.  In Romania and Bulgaria, when the people are asleep, the city is not only asleep, but it feels like a ghost town.  Insert tumbleweed again.  This was not the case so much in Budapest and Istanbul, but those are much bigger cities and have much more tourism.  That might sound scary, and at first, it kind of was nerve-racking walking around in the dead of night with no lights and little signs of human life.  But I very quickly grew to love it.  They don’t waste resources!  It’s a beautiful thing.  Even in the hotel, you had to insert your key card into the light switch to enable it to turn on.  Meaning, you can’t leave the lights on.

It’s not just electricity, it’s all resources.  They don’t blindly waste them the way we do in the First World.  I bet you would rarely see someone running water in Bulgaria and Romania to wash dishes.  They probably all fill a bowl with soapy water and then just use that.  And they aren’t obsessed with everything being disposable or convenient.  At the grocery store there were no bags.  “Paper or plastic?” is not a phrase that you hear there.  Bags were not at all available.  It was incredible.  I would stoked because I’m a hippie.  Well, my friends unfortunately call me that, but I just call it being right and smart.  How fucking hard is it to just bring your own bags to the grocery store?  Or cut your own damn apple?  When I see shit like apples pre-cut, so they need to be put in a plastic container that will immediately be thrown away, I get pissed.  When did we become such lazy assholes that we would rather suffocate the planet with plastic instead of simply cutting an apple, or god forbid, eat it straight?  When did we start believing that we are superior to the Earth?  I would LOVE to move to a Second World country so that I can contribute to a society that has common sense.

Pardon the rant.  Back to the hotel, which was dirty and dingy and just sad.  The hostels that we stayed at for approximately $12 USD a night, were WAY better.  I have no idea why people have such an aversion to hostels.  I think because of that damn movie.  Forget about that horror movie!  That would be like watching a zombie movie, and then being scared that every person you come across who coughs, may be infected with a ficticious zombie virus.

We only had the following afternoon in Bulgaria because we wanted to make sure to get four full days in Istanbul, which was the next and final stop.  Raven and I decided this would be a perfect day to get tattoos since we didn’t have time to do any real sightseeing.  I researched tattoo shops while Fat Face and Raven went back and forth showing each other funny videos on Vine, or whatever the hell it’s called, and I brainstormed on a design while she popped blackheads.

When we got to the shop, I explained that we just wanted a simple side view of a train and that we didn’t have much time because ironically, we had to be on a train in a few hours.  Our artist walked right over to us, squatted down on the floor and started sketching a little train.  It was really cool and unpretentious of him.  He, along with all of the people that we crossed paths with in Sofia were friendly and lively.  Very different from Bucharest, so it left us wondering why all of the Eastern European natives were telling us to do Bucharest instead of Sofia.

We got onto another fucking train, and headed East to Turkey.  Our experience on that train is a prime example of how travelers just have no idea of what is going on.  Before the border, we were cattled off of the train and wrangled into a concrete room that had border patrol men who didn’t even a little bit pretend to give a shit about our visas, and then we stood around for what I would guess was two hours, having no idea what in the hell was going on.  We were expecting to get on a train in Sofia and then get off in Istanbul.  Of course it was not that simple.  Smuggling Syrian refugees was involved as well as peeing in a hole in the ground… so stay tuned!

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Fat Face.  lol.

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2015 was Epic – Part 4

If you are just tuning in, please see Part 2, where our backpacking adventure started.

When I left of in Part 3, myself, my sister Raven and Fat Face were leaving Sibui, Romania (the Transylvania region) and heading toward Bucharest, the capital.  The main reason why I personally wanted to experience Eastern Europe was because I am fascinated by post Communist countries and envy Second World countries because they don’t take resources for granted, they are as baffled by capitalism as I am, and if you fall it’s your fault and you can’t sue someone because it rained and the sidewalk is wet.  Those characteristics somewhat define Eastern Europe and that’s why I am so drawn to it.

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A giant hold in the middle of the walkway.  An example of Romania giving zero fucks about liability.

With that being said, Bucharest was the only city that all three of us didn’t like.  For me, it happened to also be the city that provided the most insight and was a true learning experience because I would say that we were the most out of our element there. During this backpacking adventure, the three of us discovered that our favorite thing to do was to rent bikes.  We kept up the tradition and rented some in Bucharest.  We were riding around for maybe thirty minutes, and I found myself in this funk!  Out of nowhere I was depressed and at first, thought it was possible symptoms of PMS.  But then I noticed that Fat Face and Raven were the same.  Just by riding our bikes around the city we were all immediately sad for reasons that we couldn’t explain.  I later did some mild musing on the subject while Raven listened to Rihanna on her headphones and Fat Face created memes.  I theorized that our mood was due to the bleakness of the city.  There are no colors there.  At all.  The buildings, the clothing, the cars… everything seems to be this monochromatic tone of grey.  There was an occasional splash of color on a sign advertising an H&M or something, but that seemed even more depressing to me.  It was clear evidence of the city attempting to rid themselves of their oppressive past and conform to Western culture.  It felt contrived, not encouraging.  I will say however, that one of the best things I’ve ever eaten was in Bucharest.  It was essentially a hot pocket, but if hot pockets were good… and then add an orgasm.

*Side Note: Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten-freers, Atkiners and actually anyone on any high maintenance First World diet, Eastern Europe may not be the place for you.  It’s a lot of meat, cheese and bread.  Just embrace it.  Love, a former vegetarian.

If I had to sum up Bucharest in one sentence, I would say that the people and the places all look like something that was beautiful once, but isn’t anymore.  The big “city center” had this giant fountain that stretched for blocks, with mosaic tiling on the floor and built in lights to illuminate the dancing water.  However, the fountain was not functional anymore, the mosaic tiling was littered with dead leaves, the water had long been dried up and the lights were broken.  The people were the same.  Everyone we passed looked worn and bruised and broken.  Mainstream cultural vibrancy was still dead though it seemed as if the city was attempting to fool you.  It felt like an outcast kid in middle school, trying to fit in with the cool kids crowd.  If that outcast kid were just himself, he’d be great, but he is using all of his energy on trying to convince everyone that he is something that he is not.  In an attempt to conform, his true beauty and uniquely perfect identity gets lost along the way.  What I’m getting at is, Eastern Europe tries very hard to rid itself of its’ oppressive past, but in Bucharest, the reminisce of oppression is very present.  I think that if they stopped trying to Westernize themselves, their true beauty would shine through.

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This is the only picture I took outside of the hostel in Bucharest.  There was very little obvious beauty, so I took this to try to capture the grey bleakness.

Luckily, the hostel that we stayed at in Bucharest, Doors Hostel, was the best hostel of the trip.  After three hours of attempting to explore the city and then wanting to slit our wrists  instead, we decided that making the most of Bucharest may mean just staying at the hostel.  So we spent a lot of time there, hanging out in their tea garden and chatting it up with an employee who looked like a character from a Tim Burton movie.  She had huge sunken eyes, wispy hair, porcelain skin and was heroin-chic skinny.  Fat Face was feeling her because they had similar music taste.  I was feeling her because she gave us shots of Palinka.  Plus, she was friggen cool.  If you find yourself in Bucharest, give Danielle at Doors Hostel a high five.

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Me failing at taking a selfie in the “tea garden” at the hostel.  

We did manage to have a good time at a bar called Control.  It was a walk up bar which immediately made us feel more comfortable because that is the norm in the States, but almost unheard of in Europe.  You don’t sit at a bar in bars in Europe.  Whoa, that was a tough sentence.  Anyway, we discovered that you’re expected to just grab a table and then a server will eventually come to you.  Eventually being the key word.  It requires a lot more time and effort to get drunk in other parts of the world.  (Australia was the same way and I discuss that trip in Part 1).

As much as I bitch about America, fucking high-five to us for producing the most efficient way of consuming a lot of alcohol quickly and at low prices.  In Europe and Australia, your drink could be empty for an hour and no one gives a fuck.  Servers will rarely approach you to see if you would like another drink.  In the States it’s kind of rude to flag down your waiter, but I learned that it is acceptable and expected in the not so touristy areas of Europe.  Still, after flagging down a server, it takes a hot minute before you actually receive your drink, and by then, you’ve sobered up and are over it.  Also, if you’re drinking liquor, their standard pours are only one ounce (about 28 grams for those of you who aren’t on our retarded system of measurement) but almost double the price compared to America.  I would need to order a quadruple shot at a time if I had any intention of even getting a buzz… but that’s not very cost efficient and the drinks aren’t served quickly enough to cross the “fuck money” threshold.  Even if I ordered a double, I would probably have to plan to chill on that for two hours because in Eastern Europe, two hours in the hospitality industry seems to be the equivalent to ten minutes in America’s hospitality service.

To get to Istanbul from Bucharest by train, we had to stop in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Like I said before, the trains have absolutely no indication of what city/station they are at, and there is no PA system.  On top of this, the trains will often stop en route for no reason that is evident to the passnegers, so you never know if you’re at a real stop, or a psych! stop.  Everyone just silently looks around to see if anyone else is getting off.  I swear to God, that’s how it works.  And if you do get off at the fake-out stop, there is absolutely no workers around to tell you that your Made in China Vans are not going to hold up during your trek to the next train station which is miles away.

*See Part 3 for a little more insight on the E. Europe trains.

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A skeleton train.

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Confessions of a Heedless Sinner – Vol. 16

Of the eight boys that I’m semi dating right now, my favorite is my smooth boyfriend.  (Please see Vol. 14 if you’re wondering why and how I got myself into this mess.) I definitely spend the most time with him and he makes me laugh.  He gave his couch a name, he wears socks with pictures on them and he is also obsessed with salmon and has taken to texting me every single time he gets some.  “I’ve got some good news for you.  I just ate some salmon.” is the latest message I received from him.

I actually met him at least a year and a half ago when Rory and I were playing pool at a local dive bar.  A handful of us started hanging out that night and naturally, the conversation immediately turned vulgar.  So, the first time that smooth boy and I bonded, was over NOT ever wanting to participate in anal sex.  Rory and the others were trying to convince us that it’s hot sometimes, to which we argued no, just no.  When you have a nice, warm, moist vagina as an option, why in perfect health, would you want a butthole?  When you’re on the same side of that debate with a stranger, it’s safe to say that the two of you are bonded for life.

After that lovely conversation, smooth boy and I would say what’s up if we saw each other in that bar, but I didn’t even know his name and he was usually busy playing pool (it’s pretty sexy how good he is at it) and I was usually busy flirting with whoever my flavor of the month was.  For the first time since the anal conversation a year and a half ago, we had a conversation that lasted more than ten syllables just a few weeks ago, but unfortunately I was wasted.  I was a hot fucking mess that night and woke up the following morning scared that I was kissing this OTHER dude with a red beard at the bar which would be so embarrassing and white trash of me.  I’m not a fan of excessive PDA.  I decided that I did make a fool of myself at the bar and I came to this conclusion not because I remembered or had solid evidence, but because of my rule.

Caitlin Rule: Always assume the worst when trying to remember the details about the drunken night before.

Before I may or may not have been kissing red beard, I was definitely chatting it up and laughing with smooth boy.  We had chemistry and though I don’t remember what in the hell we were talking about for so long, I do remember that for a moment, it felt like we were the only two in the bar.  It would have been worth trying to see him again, but I was not about to step foot in that bar though for at least a few months, and I was confident that there was a chance that he thought I was a giant hoe, so oh well.  I’ll see him around in a few months, I thought.  A few days later, I was walking up to a restaurant to get a late night bite to eat and I hear, “Don’t you go to Harbor Bar?”  Oh shit, who is this going to be? is what I was thinking as I turned around.  It was smooth boy.  Crap.  The one person that I was the most embarrassed to see because I had accepted the fact that I had been flirting with him that night, and then started making-out with someone else at the bar in front of him.

I sucked it up though and sat down and ate some food with the guy.  Fifteen minutes into the conversation, I got the courage to just flat out ask him.  “No!  You were totally fine that night,” he said.  What a relief!  Whoo!  I gave myself an inner congratulations.  I must have just thought about kissing red beard.  Or maybe I kissed him outside the bar.  Who the hell knows, I’ve avoided that guy since.  Anyway, he said that he didn’t even realize that I was that drunk, but that I did just disappear.  “You’re always disappearing,” he said.  “You were cool though.  I even asked the bartender if he knew anything about you.”  I thought that was cute.

Now it’s a week later and I just went to the strip club with him.  Of course, because what could be more absurd than me, a white 29 year old girl in my faded band t-shirt and leather jacket, rolling into a strip club with these motherfuckers:

Smooth boy, who is black by the way, and wearing red shoes that corresponded with the red lettering on his Nike t-shirt and immediately started yelling with his wad of one’s, “We’re going to change the weather pattern in this bitch!”

Kid bartender.  He’s a white, 21 year old kid who wears a silver chain around his neck and says bro a lot.  That makes him sound lame, but it is important to note that he is very sexy and I would cougar the shit out of him.  Well, not now because he is Smooth boys’ friend and I do have some morals.  But, I am willing to bet that Kid bartender could get laid every single night of the week by a different girl if he wanted to.  He’s sweet and I can relate to him because we both recognize the fact that the only reason why the opposite sex is attracted to us, is because of our hair.

Sweet M.  She’s a big black woman, probably in her 40’s, who wears a fake ponytail and big pink t-shirts.  She’s hilarious and has game!  If you could have seen her in that strip club, she was giving us all lessons on how to be a player.  She is a wonderful lady, gives the best hugs and I love being around her.

So that was our motley crew at the strip club.  Kid Bartender and Sweet M were getting lap dances in the back while Smooth boy and I were failing at getting a drink.  The bartender in that place seemed to be the only person who was drunk in that whole establishment.  Getting three beers was a fifteen minute ordeal due to her temporary inability to see, hear or have authority of her motor functions.

Each of them EASILY dropped $250 that night.  I just sat back and let everyone entertain me.  The crew that I was with was just as entertaining as the strippers were.  When a song came on that he liked, Smooth boy would yell at whoever was on stage, “Oooo girl, you better do something good with this song!”  Then he would literally run over to the stage, hold a wad of cash in front of the stripper like a launch vessel that he was teasing them with.  If they sucked, he had no issues with shouting advice at them.

One stripper had this fringe type, belly dancer thing around her waist.  It was pretty annoying because it made that obnoxious sound, so Smooth boy took it upon himself to let the manager who was walking by know.  “That Moroccan bitch has got to go.  Get this girl back on stage,” he said as he pointed to the stripper that Sweet M was whispering to who looked like they pulled her straight out of the Amazon.

Later, I heard that jingle jangling approaching and Smooth boy and I immediately made eye contact and said at the same time, “here comes the Moroccan bitch!”  When she walked by, he said, “Morocco!  What’s up?  Girl, we knew that was you coming.”  I don’t think she got it, but I thought it was hysterical, and him and I high-fived and were laughing our asses off.  One of the things that I do like about Smooth boy, is that he initiates high fives with me.  A lot of boys hate high-fiving their girlfriends or any girl who they may want in their bed at any time in their life for that matter.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it seems to be a thing.

I would like to note that we were all sober.

During all this, Kid Bartender was leaning back with his feet propped up, while the strippers came to him and he nonchalantly put a wad of dollars in their thong like a pro.

The night ended with me and Smooth boy on his couch that he has named, watching Family Guy and discussing the best ways to prepare salmon.  Perfect night.

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