Conrad's European Vacation
by Conrad; Monday, August 16 2004

Conrad in life jacketI recently went to Europe so I could go on a cruise with my family.  Right after the Cornerstone Music festival, I drove sixteen hours, got in at like 11PM, did some laundry, got a couple hours of sleep and got to the airport.  I didn’t have time to get a good book for the flight so I was at the mercy of the bookstores in the airport.  Fortunately after browsing in their science fiction section of about three books I found a couple books that looked promising, an Issac Asimov inspired book about robots and a Star Wars – Clone Wars book (this book ended up being really lame). 


First I flew to Amsterdam.  I read my robot book.  It was pretty good.  I, of course, brought my Gameboy and played some Wario World 4, which is a decent game if you need to kill time.  I wouldn’t recommend you buy it though.  Just borrow it from an eleven year old kid like I did. 


So eight hours later we land and I meet up with my parents, sister and her husband in the third circle of hell which is called Amsterdam.  Man, Amsterdam is just evil.  I’m not kidding. There’s no moral boundaries.  And tons of people ride bikes.  I’m sure the two are related somehow.  I notice here in America, no one rides bikes, and we think drugs are bad and naughty images shouldn’t be on display everywhere. 


So we get on the cruise ship.  It’s not that big of a cruise ship.  I find out that out of 850 passengers there’s only 20 Americans on board.  500 of them are Italian.  Then there’s some German, Dutch, French, etc.  I quickly learned which cultures did what. 


There’s this one culture that the rest of Europe considers rude.  I figured it out before anyone else told me.  Apparently, everyone from this one nation has absolutely no idea what a line is.  Like if you’re in line to pay for something, this one culture just cuts right to the front.  I’m totally not kidding.  They actually push you out of the way.  The inventors of their language also forgot to come up with words for, “Excuse me,” “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome.”  I talked to some people from this country and they basically said that’s the way they are. 


Also, everyone on this ship is thin.  I mean I knew scientists said Americans were obese.  But there were like no fat people on the ship.  And I’m guessing it’s because it wasn’t filled with Americans.  Sort of related, I found out later that Italians only drink coffee.  They don’t even drink water.  Only coffee.  Of course the bartenders hated this.  They hate Italians and love Americans, because Americans drink tons of alcohol.  The obese thing started making more sense.


Get this, my family were the only non-white passangers on the whole entire ship.  Weird huh? 


But now get this, about 3/4ths of the crew was Filipino. Like all waiters and bartenders and cabin stewards.  They’re treated like slaves.  They work 11 hour days and they’re jammed four to a small cabin.  And have to sign on for seven months at a time.  That’s seven months away from your wife and kids.  I made lots of friends with them.  With no other passengers very good at English, I basically hung out with the Flips the whole time. 


Okay, the first thing you do on the ship is the lifeboat drill.  Okay, so the cruise tries to make money off of you at every turn.  So they have these photographers taking your picture all over the ship so you can buy it later for $15.  You would later find your photo on display.


So I just took pictures of my pictures and saved myself $15 per photo.  Brilliant. 


Here’s me having fun.


Conrad in life jacket


Here’s other people not having quite as much fun as I am.

Happy people

So a couple days at sea then we reach Norway.  Norway is the Nordic word for “twice as expensive.”  But this place was very cool.  It was like walking into a National Geographic documentary.  Do you know what a “fjord” is?  When translated it means “cool as crap.”  Huge cliffs cut away by water.  I’ve never seen anything like it. 


Here’s my ship, dwarfed by the mountains and cliffs. 

My ship in Norway


Now here’s my first step into Norway.  It was like walking into a picture. 


First stop in Norway

I was thinking it would be all cold, but the temperature rose to 80 degrees that day.  Look as now I’m not wearing my jacket.  Behind me are a bunch of people from my ship.  You’ll also notice I’m wearing some lame watch that I had to buy on the ship since I typically use my cellphone as my clock, and obviously I don’t have reception in Norway. 

Norway again


Now, here is a picture of a bathroom in Norway.  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to flush it. 


The bathroom in Norway

Look how Conrad is struck by God’s wonderful creation.

Conrad is amazed at Norway


Dude, look at this.

Dude, look.

Okay, so I’m like not bothering anyone and am not really annoying the wildlife all that much when a freakin’ socialist bear comes up and attacks me.  He was all like, “Give me all your money so I can waste it on useless government programs and poor quality health care.”  I was like, “No way man, I’m an American.”  Then I schooled the bear with my capitalistic mandibles of death.


Conrad vs The Socialist Bear


After I cleaned my hands of the blood I said goodbye to the first of three stops in Norway. 

At the next stop in Norway, I summoned the clouds to reign overhead. 

Conrad summoning the clouds


Here’s my dad and I.  I’m the one that’s awesome.  He’s the one in the GQ pose.  His name is Conrad.  My dad could out theologize your dad.

Conrad and Conrad


Since we were so traveling so far north during the summer, we got to a point where the sun never set.  Here’s a picture of the first time we had the “midnight sun”. 

Midnight sun is bad for vampires

This was actually at midnight in this photo.  Notice, you can still see the sun.  Thus the term, “midnight sun”.  You might not think it’s cool cause you’re all like, “Well it’s just a picture of the sun, I have lots of pictures like that.”  But it’s in the middle of the night yo!  Like what if you were a vampire?  You wouldn’t be able to come outside at all for like three months.  You’d have to stay in your coffin or just talk to your gypsy servants which would be lame cause you can’t really kill them since they work for you.  Their union would have a fit.  Well, more of a fit than usual. 


Okay so the last stop in Norway we had was all the way that the Northern most part of the mainland of Europe.  It’s called the “North Cape”.  At the tip there’s this totally vandalized monument marking you’re at the tip. 


Top of the World Looking Down on Creation


Now, what follows is about the coolest thing I did on the entire trip.


It’s pretty rocky up at the North Cape.  So when you go to the monument up there you’re also supposed to pile some of the small rocks on each other to make a little tower.  You’re then supposed to make a wish and your wish will soon come true.


So you go there and see hundreds of these little stacks of stones.  The easiest thing to do would be go around kicking others’ wishes down to the ground.  But that would be too easy.  In fact I saw a couple kids doing just that.  But I am no child.  I have left that thinking behind me.  I am too mature and intelligent for that. Instead, I built my own tower and said, “I wish that everyone else’s wishes won’t come true.” 

Conrad - Destroyer of Wishes




On the way back we stopped by some natives of the region.  They like reindeer and wear triple-Gumby hats.  So there was this one dude with his reindeer you were supposed to take your picture next to.  He was really serious.  But I made him laugh.  That’s what I do.  I bring happiness to the other parts of the world. 

Gumby with ReindeerConrad make Gumby laugh

So later that night we had dinner and here comes the photographer, but he’s accompanied by some clown.  Actually this clown was a nice girl from Ukrane or something like that who kind of got tricked to sign on.  She’s actually a very talented rhythmic gymnast.  Like for a show she was doing all these balancing moves, like upside down, on a ship, you know like at sea, like a sea with waves that rock the ship back and forth?  I felt sorry for her.  She didn’t really like being there.   

Conrad and the Clown Gymnast

Now since it’s an Italian ship, the food is all Italian.  Now they like pasta right?  I like pasta.  But they like their pasta “al dente”.  And you know what “al dente” means?  It means, “like crap.”  Al dente is basically undercooked pasta.  So the pasta was typically hard.  Like they just needed to cook everything five more minutes, then it would have been fine.  And there was like no ketchup anywhere.  What’s up with that?  Didn’t Italians invent the tomato? 


More sailing and we go to Iceland – which was completely devoid of any Ice.  They might want to rename it to Not-a-whole-lot-of-Ice-Land.  Here’s me using my powers to summon the water elemental.


Conrad summoning the water elemental


OK, so not too much to see in Iceland.  Off to Scotland.  First off was the Shetland Islands.  All my Filipino friends thought it was a bad word.  Have you heard of Shetland ponies?  Well they’re like these dogs that look like horses.  Here’s me with one.  Apparently they’re supposed to bite, but this dog just ignored me.

Nice puppy


We went to some ruins and it was pretty beautiful there.  No one there knew Scrooge McDuck.

Scotland is nice

Then at dinner, more weird things going around trying to get their pictures taken with you.  This time the cruise line managed to hire a soul-sucking demon for the photo-ops.  I bravely fought it off as you can see from this picture.


Conrad fighting off demon from the abyss


Another stop in Scotland.  I have to give Scotland this, the cities are beautiful.  No skyscrapers.  I liked it. 

Scotand has nice towns


Like you, I always wondered what a bathroom in Scotland looked like.  We’ll I brought you back a picture.

Scotland has clean bathrooms


Here’s some castle.

Some castle


And here’s Cawdor Castle.  It’s the one that Shakespere set MacBeth in.  MacBeth is that play where this one guy kills this other guy and then later some other people die.  I heard that there’s lots of iambic pentameter in the play, so you probably want to keep it away from your kids.

MacBeth's Castle


Then that was the end of the two week cruise.  After the cruise we ported back in Amsterdam, the land of evil.  So we went to Brussels.  Look at this cool new Galaga Decapolis shirt I’m wearing.  Brussels was cool. 

The Muscles from Brussles

I got on a plane and finally got back to America, where people have lots of money, are fat and have ketchup.  I do love America.  Seriously.  I appreciate it more.  Faults and all.  It’s a great place to live where people actually cook their pasta.


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