The most awesome thing that has happened to me on this trip happened yesterday. There I was, sitting at a streetside cafe in my smelly socks and dirty cap, when a dude came up and asked me where the East Train Station was. In German.My heart began pounding I was so excited, but I covered up my enthusiasm with a look of vague annoyance and, using the fewest words possible in order to hide my origins, thumbed down the road and said, “That way.” Then to rub in the fact that I was a local, I added “East.”
He was grateful and thanked me, as he’d been lugging a giant box for what looked liked several thousand miles. I later found out that I’d sent him in the completely wrong direction and that he hadn’t been asking about the station, but no matter: I had passed the “looks Euro” test with flying colors and could now retire undefeated.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe here is a quick guide on how to look Euro so people will speak to you in a language you don’t understand and you can answer them in thickly accented, broken, unintelligible English to make them think you are Slovenian. The key is to NOT look like an American tourist, which is impossible.
- Carry a cigarette. Better, smoke one. Best, smoke one while exercising.
- Carry an open bottle of beer. Better, carry one in each hand. Best, wear baggy pants with giant cargo pockets and put three bottles in each one.
- Wear an American logo, but an obscure one. “Nike” and “Raiders” are out, “West Appaloosa BrewCo” in tiny cursive type on a faded olive background, in.
- Bring your small children and chain smoke around them. Better, make sure they smoke, too. Best, share your beers with the tots while you all smoke together.
- Order a cup of coffee, drink it over a two-hour period, then sit there staring at the empty cup for another four. Reading or phone checking is forbidden, vacant staring is mandatory. Better, make it six hours. Best, fall asleep.
- Study your money for days before departure and NEVER fumble with coins or bills trying to decipher the denominations. Better to indifferently drop a 50€ note that the vendor can’t change while buying a 50-cent drink than to try and figure out if the coins in your pocket are the right ones.
- Never try to pay with a credit card, especially where they are accepted.
- Stink a little. Better, stink a lot. Best, smell like a garbage dump while wearing immaculate designer clothing.
- Ride a bike everywhere, even when it’s 100 feet away. Better, ride a rusted out POS with a warped rear rim, a flat tire, and a 40-kg security chain wrapped around the basket. Best, steal a fancy racing bike with racing pedals and use it for errands wearing flip-flops. Better, bare feet. Best, push it.
- Lug around a stack of dirty newspapers bound with a string whose headline reads, “Revolution Now!” and ask cafe patrons to buy a copy for 10 cents or 50€. Better, sit on the stack with a beer and a cigarette and curse passers-by. Best, beg.