I just got back to the States two hours ago. This is what I learned:
If you suffer from irrational fear of flying, it is probably not a good idea to go back on birth control, skip your period, and become a hormonal mess the same month you fly upwards of 30 hours.
Yes, your nipple piercing will set off the airport metal detector. Yes, that large Greek woman did just feel you up.
Brief future travel companions on what to expect when vacationing with you: mood swings, middle-of-the-night dry heaving and sobs, obsessive webcamming with guy you’re seeing back in the States, mysterious mid-vacation disappearances to other foreign countries.
Just because you scored a discount on the five-star resort you’re staying at does not mean you can afford to eat at the five-star resort. Corollary: Euros look like monopoly money but they are not. Put down that piece of cake. It’s $20.
The Acropolis is fairly historically significant, so bring a book on it if you’re not going to pay for a guide when you visit. Otherwise, all your Facebook photos will be captioned “old, important-looking building.”
When in doubt, just get on the damn plane to Germany. You will not regret going. You will regret not going.
No, that guy wearing the scarf is not gay. He is just German. Corollary: Yes, those guys holding hands are gay. It is not a “German thing.”
In Greece and Germany, there is no difference between ice cream and gelato. All ice cream is gelato. Fatty, American ice cream does not exist. Corollary: There are no fat people in Heidelberg.
“I don’t speak German” is not an effective way of turning down men. Everyone in Germany speaks English. Corollary: Repeatedly saying the German word for no, “nein”, is also an ineffective way of turning down men. You best start making out with your female best friend instead.
Things the concierge at nice hotels will do for you include: retrieving you new contacts when you leave yours in Germany, make international phone calls on your behalf, get anything and everything short of endangered creatures delivered to your room, stall taxi drivers you’ve kept waiting for 20 minutes, turn the other cheek when you bring home strange Greek men. Things they will not do: tell you where to score drugs.
Murphy’s Law goes into full force during foreign travel. Your best friend will have a breakdown the day before you leave. She will not be in the “right” country (meaning the country you are in) when this happens. You will lose all your credit cards. The New York Times will depict you as some Ivy-educated, modern-day Suzie Wong even when you are not in the country to defend yourself. You will miss your flight home. Every form of transportation you use, including the CDG train, the RER, the T in Boston, and others, WILL BREAK DOWN. When you think you’re finally safe on American soil, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR LUGGAGE. So really, next time time you vacation, you should just buy a one-way ticket, make zero structured plans, and hope for the best. You will probably wind up in the exact same position anyway (that is, rocking back and forth in a ball in a corner of Terminal E in Charles de Gaulle).
If you miss your flight and do not have a credit card to buy a new one, the following will not convince French airline employees to put you on a plane: crying, begging, flashing, saying please in Spanish. No, they will not be impressed at your high school level grasp of a European language.
If your MacBook stops detecting wifi and you have no phone or calling card, the best idea when stuck in the airport is to LATCH ONTO AMERICANS FOR DEAR LIFE. No one else in Europe will give a damn about you, honey, and even the midwestern boy you’re crying to is only vaguely moved.
Guys who bail you out of tough situations (like getting stuck in France with no money or phone or dignity) are keepers. Especially if they promise you amazing sex once you’re on the same side of the Atlantic.
Money can be wired, plane tickets can be purchased, but dignity cannot be regained. Double-check you brought yours along for the return flight, because if you left in France, the French are not giving it back.