The Time We Coined The Term “Franc-en-shafted”

Last month, I decided to go on a European road trip with my brother, two of my nephews and my cousin.  We like to think of ourselves as “the dream team”…but probably resemble something more along the lines of this.

girls

We landed in the Milano airport and immediately got busy.

gabe

Coffee?  Check.

patron

Patron XO Cafe?  At 8:30am?  After an overnight sleepless flight?  Sure why not.

Our very loose plan was to land in Milan, drive up to Zurich, then over to Liechtenstein (more on that in another post), then onto to Venice, Florence, Bologna, Rome and then up to Parma through the Tuscan countryside, ending our trip back in Milan.

IN 5 DAYS.

I do not normally like to travel like this—I prefer a nice leisurely pace with time to really absorb my surroundings (preferably a nice lukewarm Caribbean ocean with a fancy drink in hand).  But sometimes you have just have to go for it.  You have to be the America cliché because you are, for the most part, American.

american

So we landed in Milan, had some coffee and were on our way.  One small glitch: our GPS was set in Russian.

russian

Russian.  An alphabet that is, like, totally impossible to work with when you’re desperately trying to search “how do I change the damn language on the GPS when it’s set to Russian” with my limited data roaming plan.  (Verizon, you’re the worse.)

GPS OUT, iPhone IN.  Our first mission was to leave Milan and head to Zurich.  Something I absolutely DID NOT want to do.  Why why why would we leave beautiful, wonderful, WARM Italy for the mountains, and cold, and dark, and dreary?  WHY WOULD WE DO THAT?  I tried my best to convince the dream team to skip the Alps, but I was outnumbered.  So I gave in and focused on the photo ops instead.

group1

At the border of Italy and Switzerland you are charged 35 Euros to enter Switzerland.  That’s a red flag if I ever did see one.  But we resumed blissfully unaware that the Franc-en-shaft had begun.

Around noonish we arrived in Zurich and started looking for places to eat lunch.  I looked up some places on yelp and picked the highest rated/cheapest option.  Except in Zurich “cheap” means something completely different than what it means for the rest of the entire world.

We find a pub and it’s tiny and cute and the owner seemed like a pretty authentic, rough around the edges kind of guy.  Thankfully, my brother speaks German which earned us just a touch more respect than perhaps other American tourists would have.  He plopped down menus in front of us, and gave us all of 3 seconds to look it over and figure it out.  All the while standing impatiently over us waiting for our order.

When we told him we weren’t ready he gruffly took our drink order.  My order went something like this:

“Can I have a glass of the house red wine?”

“WINE.  WHITE.  OKAY.”

“Ohhh, no…red.  Red wine.”

“OKAY.  WHITE.”

My brother, laughing, ordered my red wine in German.  The owner was not pleased.  Did they have an abundance of white wine that he was trying to get rid of?

He came back two minutes later and pulled the menus out of our hands and waited for our orders.  Let me repeat that, HE TOOK MY MENU AWAY BEFORE I COULD POINT TO WHAT I WANTED.  Which of course left me to place my order in my ridiculous version of German.

“Geschnetzeltes, please.”  Yeah.  Exactly.

I ordered what is supposed to be the specialty in Zurich, and it looks like this.

food

It’s chicken (or pork or veal) smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce with what looks/tastes like a hash-brown on the side.  And despite myself, and my growing dislike of this pub owner, it was pretty tasty.  One side creamy, one side fried—win-win, right?

Our check came out, and was placed gently on the table.  Ha, I’m kidding, gentle is not in the German/Swiss vocabulary.

You may or may not know this, but Switzerland is so rich that it never converted to the Euro.  They’re all about the Swiss Franc.  And because the country is so small, everyone is obviously a millionaire.  Because our bill for the cheapest/highest rated pub in Zurich induced this reaction.

allergic to bs gif

So we paid.  Yet, still, we shrugged it off because we were ON VACATION!  YEAH!

But then we went to get coffee at the Starbucks (Zurich is basically an outdoor mall full of American chain stores set in picturesque surroundings).

And we paid 8 Francs, or $9.20, for a coffee.  This, this was the moment we coined the term: FRANC-EN-SHAFTED.

starbucks

The entirety of our Swiss adventure felt like one big Franc-en-shaft after another.

Our most expensive, most delicious meal at a very expensive restaurant in Rome cost HALF of what a crappy “cheap” pub with terrible service costs in Zurich.

So do GO to Zurich for the photo ops:

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alps

zurich

wholegroup

But DO NOT eat/stay/drink there.  Just turn yourself around and get yourself to Italy stat.

However, if you do decide that you must see the Swiss Alps, because they really are beautiful, you should perhaps brush up on your German:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_xUIDRxdmc

The Time I Was All Normcore When I Met Henry Cavill

First, we must establish two things:

THIS is Henry Cavill.

henry2

And this…is normcore.  (Gaaa.  So stupid.)

NORMCORE

Since we were talking about Ireland, I thought this would be a good time to bring up the time I swooned like a drooling fool over Henry Cavill.  When I was supposed to be interviewing him.

henrycavillchair

Before arriving on the set of The Tudors, I was told to wear boots because there was going to be a lot of mud.

muddy2

I live in Manhattan, I don’t own boots that are good in the mud—we don’t have mud, just enormous lakes of melted snow/slush/garbage three feet deep around every sidewalk.  But no mud.  So I wore my snow boots.  Which are utterly hideous.  And look like elf shoes.  And I wore blue corduroy pants (from the Gap!).  And some scarf that I thought was cool, before I realized it had something to do with Palestinians or protests or whatever.

I mean…is this what someone should wear when they are about to meet the second most beautiful man in the world?!

Shhhh, Ryan, it’s okay, I will always love you most.

Ryan-Gosling-GIF

So this is what I looked like when I met Henry Cavill.

me
And this is what he looks like.

hernysmile

He walked into the room IN COSTUME, gave me a glorious smile and sat down in the chair in front of me, all ready for his interview.  My entire body turned a nice beat red as I made a sad attempt at some small talk while he was getting mic’d up—something like “soooo, how has the day been going?  Great great…so…how has the day been going?”

I had my very carefully prepared questions in front of me, which were totally useless.  How is a girl expected to read a 12-point font on a white piece of paper when a man dressed like a knight at the round table is sitting in front of her.  How, I ask you!

After a few horrendously awkward moments, I finally pulled it together and started asking my questions like a robot reading directly from my list.  Then, there was this moment when I actually said something…funny.  And he smiled.  Nay, he laughed!  And all I could think was, “HE THINKS I’M FUNNY!  I AM SOOO FUNNY RIGHT NOW!!” And then, of course, I completely lost my place and bumbled around like a fool through the rest of the interview with one part of me desperately wanting it to be over, and the other wanting it to never end.

However, despite my ridiculous behavior I got a great interview from him and he gave me a sweet hug goodbye. (I KNOW!!! I. JUST. DIED.)  And that was it.  He was gone.  And the color faded just ever so slightly from the world around me.

But this is a travel blog, not a homage to my love for Henry Cavill, so here is the travel stuff.  A little outside of Dublin, The Tudors shot their outdoor scenes in the countryside, and if you’ve never seen the Irish countryside, you are truly missing out.

This is what it looks like with men on horses galloping around on it.

redflags

This is what it looks like when they are surveying the land.

horses

And this is what it looks like when someone sets up a medieval war camp on it…

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muddy

camp

And of course here are some soldiers…just having a smoke.  They had lighters back then, right?

soldiers_cig