Gay Southern Hospitality in Western Europe

He settled me into his home and said, “Just so you know, the lesbian neighbors will probably keep you up at night. They’re always fighting or having rough lesbian sex. The only difference between the two is that when they have rough lesbian sex it goes for hours. You’ll see. And by the way, their bed is right on the other side of your wall.” In the 10 minute walk to his apartment I knew more about his sex life than I knew about my own. Two tolerance levels of mine increased during my stay with him–my alcohol tolerance and acceptable limit of TMI. I think my knowing the details of his engagement the night before with a sexually experimenting British guy at the bar is not enough information for him. My first impression of Jamaal scared me into sleeping in full clothes my first night on his couch because I did not know what was on my sheets. I’ve stayed with Jamaal for four nights and contrary to what I expected, he’s an incredible host.
Jamaal lived in Spain, France and now Brussels, Belgium; but he hails from South Carolina, the home of Southern Hospitality. English language teachers don’t have much but what he has he shares with me. Including unwanted details about what goes on upstairs (luckily for me, I was fast asleep when he brought a boy home the other night). We laugh together, burp together, vent together and drink together but we would never be together if it weren’t for Couchsurfing. We have an unlikely friendship born from a common interest in traveling. I will miss him. I will not miss the rough lesbian sex though.

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Busting down a Berlin Wall of Language Barriers

While in Normandy doing a work-exchange for a month I did various works ranging from woodwork to vacuuming. Sometimes not sharing a mutual language with my coworkers. One project I was assigned was to help another worker, Leonardo, extend the wood shed and lay a concrete floor. Mike (my host and WWII movie partner) ordained me Leonardo’s Gopher, a role that doesn’t work so well since Leonardo comes from Italy, AND doesn’t speak english, AND hasn’t a clue what “go for” means. Either way, I was Leonardo’s Gopher for four days and we had a serious problem: communicating. On the day after the concrete had dried over night I walked across it to get a tool. I didn’t get very far before Leonardo shouted NO NO NO NO NO NO. No what?! No what!? I asked. Every which way I feigned to step he shouted louder! “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SAYING NO FOR!!!”–I wanted to scream! But even if I did scream he wouldn’t have known what I said anyways! What was I to do? Usually the International Language worked for us but trying to speak it isn’t as easy when I’m being yelled at. We had our language barriers and we had our way around them. The International Language.
Meow. Moo. Huh? Ouch! Smiling. Rihanna. FC Barcelona. Pointing. All are part of the international language. Anyone who has mastered the international language is a genius at Charades. Anyone who can is a genius at charades has ingenious hand gestures. Anyone who has ingenious hand gestures can convey basic thoughts. And anyone who can effectively do that, can speak the international language.
When Leonardo wanted a hammer he’d say tac tac tac. When he wanted me to shovel three loads of sand into the concrete mixer he’d hold up three fingers. When he wanted to talk about finding diamonds he’d sing “Shine bright like a diamond.” It was amazing what we could talk about with only a few words. Once a few words were established we expanded our vocabulary. It grew exponentially. Family unlocks brother unlocks sister unlocks sister in law etc… Our language developed into an upside down pyramid from just a few building blocks composing the base.
Leonardo told me he owns a small construction and architecture company in Italy. His brother worked with him but recently quit. Now Leonardo is taking a break from working and is traveling through France. Why France? Because after he passes a French test the Catholic Church will fly him to Africa for missionary work. Before Normandy he was in Brittany, France until his drunk work-exchange host threatened him with a knife. He’s a wiz with a knife. He learned everything he knows about cooking from his mom and from working in a restaurant. On my first night he made pizza for everyone. The best pizza I’ve ever had was made by an Italian in France. An incredible chef he is. When he was young he and his brother had to be very independent. Father was hardly around and mother worked in the morning when he got ready and left for school. He doesn’t remember much about his father. He knows my father is a business man and that my family is from the greater Sacramento area. He knows just as much about me as my english speaking hosts.
Language does create barriers but it’s not the Berlin Wall. Don’t let it discourage you from traveling and finding a way around language. Go under go over go around it.

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Who are you calling Ugly American?

All I wanted was a splash of ketchup for my fries. She didn’t have to respond the way she did. Back home everyone eats their fries with ketchup. That waitress should have respected our cultural differences and brought me ketchup. Of course the same argument applies to me so I should have respected French culture too… but I’m the one with the blog so she’s wrong.
You’ve probably deduced from my bitterness that I never got my ketchup. That waitress forced me to enjoy those fresh crisped salt bathed fries without it and I hate to say: they were delicious and certainly some of the best fries I’ve ever had. “Ne pas tradicional”, with a nice smirk to match her condescending tone she growled and spat the words like a feisty chihuahua wearing a sombrero. “Will you survive?” were her last stabs before she turned and left, spoken in english so condescendingly I felt her poison shooting through my veins. It was like being stabbed with my own sword. She wasn’t only commenting on my etiquette, something deeper, harder and meaner was in her words…
I am an ugly American. I asked for ketchup just like the others. But what about her? She was so rude, so condescending, so snobbish. I’m not an ugly American, she’s a snobby Francias. A simple sorry and explanation wouldn’t have killed her. Plus I would have sympathized and happily forgotten the ketchup. But, asking for ketchup was a slap in the chef’s face. I’m lucky he didn’t catch wind of my sin. She did have a point though. I could have tried the fries before I asked her and I could have left my American habit at home.

Please! Don’t forget to Like me on facebook at: A Seriously Casual Traveler and join my Euro-adventure on Instagram: seriouslycasualtrvlr If you do you’ll receive a cupcake in the mail! Also, if you want a postcard click on the page: project postcard. and follow the directions!

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Annecy; the most beautiful name I ever saw.

This gallery contains 17 photos.

For nearly two weeks my affair with Annecy left me wanting more and more of her summer love. Our time together was indescribable and Good. So indescribable I shan’t waste any characters on her. These are some my favorite photos … Continue reading

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9,387 Reasons to Remember D-Day

Being the seriously casual traveler I am, In tend to be a seriously casual writer, but not today, today I’m all serious. Because today was a different type of day for me. A day of remembrance. A day of respect. A day of honoring the American men and women who sacrifice to preserve the liberties I’ve come to know as America. So, with my beanie off and right hand covering my heart I remember, honor and thank the generations before, during and ahead of my own life that have, are, will continue to uphold the principals that make the United States the greatest country in the world. Today was my first day with my host family and my host father took me and two other work-exchange volunteers to the cemetery.

The Allies’ ambitious landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944 was the beginning of the end of the European Theatre although at the time the 73,000 American men responsible for breaking Hitler’s Atlantic wall at Utah and Omaha beach were only boys, unaware of the challenges, enemies, accomplishments, victories and liberation from Nazi oppression they carried on their soldiers for France and the world. The following quotes are from General Eisenhower’s message to our soldiers about to change the world. The following pictures are from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

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Omaha Beach.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

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Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely

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But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

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I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The formations of Allied planes dropping paratroopers stretched 300 miles across the sky like ribbon and dropped 14,000 American soldiers deep behind enemy lines. Merry Christmas France. Around 75,000 American soldiers stormed Utah and Omaha beach. 4,650 Americans died in a matter of hours. And estimated casualties are growing as more research is done.

We ow our World War II veterans – and all our veterans – a debt we can never fully repay.

-Doc Hastings

Here’s some pictures from 69 years ago I stole from google for you viewing pleasure.

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Bomb craters feel a whole lot more destructive when you’ve stood in one.

Keep travelin,
A Seriously Casual Traveler

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You Can’t Say Man Purse Without Saying Man

Dear friends, enemies, and fellow travelers,

Today I want to confront an issue that disturbs the manly men of the world: the man purse.
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Nothing revokes your man-card as quickly as sporting a stylish man purse. Draping the petite bag on your shoulder is an open invitation for trolling. With a ballerinas elegance and Shakespeare’s unrivaled rhetoric your friends might insult you with: “What are you, Gay?”. “Nice purse. Fag.” Even the manliest man will feel belittled and succumb to questioning his own masculinity. Good luck getting into the he-man woman haters club with a purse. I think you’re chances of meting Justin Beiber would be better, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what you’d rather with a purse like that. I fear the man purse has become a certificate of death for manliness. But, should it be? Let us review the pros and cons of the purse. Consider George Castanza.
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Look at that wallet! While most of you know Castanza, you may not know this: sitting on you wallet while driving causes misalignment of the spine, causing back pain. What if Castanza had a man purse? IF he wasn’t too cheap to buy one George would enjoy the practicality of purse-onality! Wallets, coupons, sun glasses, cigarettes and the occasional joint are only a few of the things that your man purse can take out of your pockets and off your hands. Too few items for your Jansport? Too many for your pockets? Your man purse won’t only add to your comfort but your style too! Look at all these GQ man purses on manly men you might know.
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What about the fanny pack? What made fanny packs any more acceptable than the man purse? Look at these hideous things!
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The only people who should be legally authorized to wear fanny packs are lifeguards and exceptionally embarrassing dorky dads. And wearing your fanny pack slung across your chest doesn’t make it any less of a fanny pack, just a man purse wannabe. The French and Italians wear man purses and aren’t they known for having the best style?
The past few weeks have opened my eyes to man purses. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve got man purse envy. I’m sick of lugging my backpack around. It’s a tourist flag. Sure it’s big and can hold everything I need, but you know what they say, “Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts.”
Travel on!
-A Seriously Casual Traveler

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Commencing Project Postcard.

Dear friends, enemies, family and seriously casual readers,

I miss you. I want to send you a postcard. You want to get a postcard. I want to surprise you with fun facts, childish drawings, thoughtful quotes, and most importantly, bad puns. You want to be surprised with those things, especially the bad puns. You love bad puns. You want me to throw down a bad pun right now. But I refuse. It’s uncomfortably hard think of a pun about puns.

So, join Project Postcard — a way for us to connect outside of the time sucking impersonal void that is the internet. It’s easy, cheap, and non-habit forming. Seriously. As a matter of fact, it’s not cheap; it’s FREE. Unlike habit forming drugs. So here’s what you’re gonna do:

Step 1. Visit my page: project postcard. on my blogs header menu.

Step 2. Read and follow the directions.

Step 3. Get a seriously casual postcard from the one and only me.

Step 4. Twist and shout because you love it so.

Step 5. Watch the next episode of Game of Thrones. People love that %$*#.

done. easy as pie. let’s do it! Click here for step 1!

PS. All this pun talk is making me Annecy.

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