» Greetings from the brave new Old World.
BY THE NUMBERS: Computer mice killed in the process of writing the book: 1 ... Post-It flags in my copy of Europe on $5 a Day, marking Important Things I'm not sure I ever got around to mentioning: 12 ... Preferred writing fuel: Bolthouse Farms' Blue Goodness Smoothie ... Preferred writing music: Pandora station with classical guitar, instrumental jazz/hip-hop, low-key electronic (nothing catchy, nothing with lyrics, although Gladys Knight and I do a killer duet of "Midnight Train to Georgia")
Self-portrait by the Arno.
Synchronized touristing at the Duomo.
The Parade for Sex and Beer in Paris. Just one of the joys of getting lost: stumbling upon weirdness like this.
Thirty seconds after I took this photo, the skies opened up and totally drenched me. Which was really not magical. But then I high-tailed it over to a bakery and waited out the storm ... and that, okay, was pretty great.
After I enjoyed the view at Montmartre, I explored the neighborhood and hit the tourist trifecta: historic building, souvenir shop, Irish pub.
The Heineken Experience has a amazing array of branded stuff, including mouse pads, golf bags, and big ol' fluffy bath robes, modeled here by Lee.
Ah, Manneken-Pis, the wee whizzer, who "all the ladies from Dubuque deplore," says Frommer. What an odd landmark to be the iconic symbol of a country, yes?
Brussels: a kinda surreal city and particularly proud of hometown hero Rene Magritte. When you come here, go to the Magritte Museum--brilliant art, intriguing story, quirky/trippy touches throughout.
Lee and I went to a Frommer-recommended place called "Berliner Kindl." Except ... that turns out to be the name of the beer they served--it's as though Frommer walked into an American bar and thought it was called "Miller Lite" based on the sign out front.
Berlin doesn't seem to know whether it wants to dwell on its tumultuous past or focus on its future (and the commericalism that will help it prosper). So, often, it does both--as here, where a piece of the old Berlin wall shares a corner with a huge billboard.
Lee leads the crowd in drinking songs at the Augustiner Keller beer garden. Not kidding.
Lee at the Ratskeller in Munich, giving the official five-a-day salute over a plate full of German health food.
Frommer touts fondue as a real whiz-bang, exotic novelty. So I had to have some. For research.
A very typical scene on the European tourist trail: historic architecture, lovely statues ... and backpackers playing the didgeridoo.
Is there anything innately creepier than an amusement park in the off-season? I think not. Frommer promised good old-fashioned wholesome fun. I found a forlorn, deeply unnerving ghost town filled with rickety rides and not-so-fun-looking fun houses.
Venice is justly known for its fish markets and artisan markets and all kinds of old-fashioned markets. These days, though, it's best probably known for theses kiosks selling traditional Venetian wares and garb. Yup.
A tourist snapshot every bit as requisite as a photo of a gondolier or a sun-dappled canal. My friend Matt, after laughing at my unkempt hair, said that it looks like I spent the previous night on a train. Which is, in fact, true.
One of my favorite things about Rome is that there's history everywhere. You turn a corner and, oh, hey, Trevi Fountain! Peer down a random side street and, blammo, there's the Colosseum.
Striking my classic pose at the Roman Forum. That smile on my face isn't just for the camera--it's also from my pleasure at being in the famous Land of Gelato. Oh, yeah.
From a train station photo booth my last day in Europe.