Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mahd's Guide to the World, Part 4: Western Europe

Welcome to our next leg on the World Tour. Western Europe is generally differentiated from Eastern Europe in that there's less babushkas in the West. If you're travelling towards Russia and suddenly you hit head hankerchief country, you're in Eastern Europe.

Here are the countries, and my thoughts about them after Googling them:


A trend we will notice with European countries is that they all have the Glory Days. For Portugal, this was the 15th century, when they figured they were closest to the New World, and so sent a bunch of ships out towards it. Thanks to them (and the Pope), you now have to figure out if the country you're going to speaks Spanish or Portuguese.

Ironically, much like many of the countries they claimed, the Portuguese were run by a dictator for much of the 20th century. This makes their former colonies laugh.

Today, Portugal is known for terrible drivers, and exports them throughout the world. The next time you're cut off in traffic, it may not be the person's fault- they may be Portuguese.


Spain is a strange and foreign land. That's because everything is written in Spanish. But even if it were written in English, it would still be a strange place. The country was conquered by Muslims, and they tried their hardest to make up for it. Let's face it, the whole Inquisition thing was basically just an attention cry to point out how Christian they were.

Nowadays, Spain is a magnet for lonely ladies who get a thrill out of hearing a greasy young man speak with a thick foreign accent. This means he's "exotic"; at least, until you realize he works at the local McDonalds selling hamburgesas.


France gets a bad rap. They're stinky, they always surrender, they are assholes. This may not be warranted, but it's funny. France, at least, has the culture to back up their snobbery- art, food and culture are held in high esteem. It's better than some Republic of Honksylvania proclaiming their superiority to the world. Nonetheless, France still has challenges ahead of it: keeping it's cars from being destroyed, for example. Also, it might be a good idea to install some air conditioning in those old folks homes. Oh, and for God's sake, clean up your dog's crap on the street. Or maybe you're just a bunch of fetid, jerkass cowards.


Andorra is wedged in between France and Spain in the middle of the Pyrenees. With small countries, there are two choices: remain an obscure backwater or remain an obscure backwater with high priced attractions. Andorra has chosen the latter, and has basically transformed it's entire area into a ski resort. There's a double black diamond run that goes from the north of the country to the south, but the lift line is a bitch.


Jolly Olde England! The land is named, of course, for the native Engs that settled here. To me, England is what America would be if we all talked silly all the time. Never mind that the majority of American culture and law is based on the English model; they call elevators "lifts". That's charming. English cuisine is also known worldwide; they're well known for the blandest, most disgusting food ever to be created. Any country that serves "blood pudding" needs to rethink it's whole plan.

England benefits from people's fuzzy ideas of how and when the Empire spread. In film and tv, I've seen Romans, French, Spanish and even Imperial Stormtroopers with British accents. To be British is to be thought of as more civilized, more refined. And yet, flying in the face of this is the food. There are lots of Englishmen who dislike the many immigrants on the shores, but at least they're bringing in a decent meal.


The Welsh, when considered separately from the rest of the United Kingdom, have a romantic mythos about them. They bring to mind druids and trees and all sorts of other crap that eleven year old girls dream about. In reality, they are just as pasty and Protestant as the rest of the island; they just have a language that makes people's tongues explode from their heads. The English didn't conquer the Welsh so much to gain their land as to make them stop speaking that wacky language.


Here's what my idea of every Scotsman is: He's that loud friend of yours who drinks a little too much at the party and goes a little too crazy and then goes insane when you try to calm them down. In other words, they're a good time. I realize this is probably a wildly inaccurate view and generalizes every Scotsman, but that's the way it goes. They had one shot to ingrain themselves on my consciousness, and that opportunity was Braveheart, so now I imagine them to all be crazy, freedom-loving barbarians. I will be sadly disappointed if I go there and they're not killing at least a few English.


Ireland strikes me as a contrary place: voice any sort of opinion here and you'll have a group of people with the opposite stance. For example:

Person one: "I like peas."
Person two: "You fooking arsehole, peas kilt me pa!"

It's a whole nation of people whose entire purpose of living is to be contrary, to fight whatever rules that others try to place on them and to live life as raucously as possible.

However, they make Guinness here, so I forgive them.


Welcome to Italy. Every third cathedral you see was designed by Michelangelo and every other one by Leonardo. Italy is the home of the Roman Empire, which did pretty well as far as Empires go. When you come here, chances are you're probably going to have some pasta. Just a guess, there. If you are a woman or an effeminate male, you will be approached or humped by the local boys. It's just their way of saying hello. Oh, and "I'm going to have sex with you whether you realize it or not." There's pretty much a competition between Spain and Italy to see how many nubile young foreign girls they can coax into bed; and yet, there is no winner between them.


I don't want to say anything bad about Belgium. They're friendly, they have chocolate and beer, they've been picked on by other countries for plenty of years. The only downside to the country is that it's so small that everything becomes a major news story. Take a plane here and you might find yourself on the front page of the paper. Buy a newspaper there and you'll be on the evening news. And forget about renting a car- the paparazzi will follow you incessantly.

The other funny thing about Belgium is that the country is made up of two hilarious groups: The Flemish and the Walloons. There has never been war between these two groups because the idea of a Flemish-Walloon conflict is enough for people to cancel the whole thing based on it's ridiculousness.


Germany gets a bad rap for being the bad guy in both of the World Wars, but it's really Austria's fault. In WWI, it was the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor's nephew that started things, and we all know Hitler was an Austrian. And yet Austria has gotten off relatively scot free.

In reality, Austria is just Germany 2. Sure, it may be slightly different, but everyone here is basically German. I bet they always take Germany's side in things, too. Like if the Czech Republic is getting all irritated over something Germany is doing, Austria is all like "What's up? Didn't expect another Germany, did you?".

It also could be I don't know what I'm talking about.


The Dutch are leading a double life. On the outside, they are normal, happy, well-adjusted people with good jobs and families. But once you go inside their house, you see the mirror on the ceiling, the handcuffs on the bed and the wide array of sex toys arrayed on the rotating waterbed. Want to see beautiful art and architecture? The Netherlands has it. Want to smoke some hash with the midget transsexual prostitute who's plying her body in the window? You can do that too. The Dutch realize that you sometime need midget transsexuals as much as you need to see another museum full of Van Goghs.


Oh, Germany. You are a home to some of the world's finest musicians and artists. You have good, solid food, an efficient and friendly population. You have beer gardens. Every time you talk, it sounds like some Jews are about to die, which, admittedly, isn't a good thing, but it does make you sound authoritative.

I have to admit, I love you.

I don't know why. As a half-Jewish person myself, I probably shouldn't have such a love affair with you. And yet, you took evil and made it as evil as it could possibly be. But I don't love you for your evil. It was the theatrics associated with it. Black and grey and steel and orderly: writers could not invent a better villain than the one you provided. I still don't quite understand it myself. Perhaps it was that you were so invincible, and yet we took you down regardless.

And I love you for your redemption. For rebuilding yourself after being beat down and called all kinds of names and never quite trusted. I don't understand, you crazy Nazis, and maybe I never will...


At 11:39 PM, Blogger Old Man Morri said...

wheres australia. or are you just doing the EU?

I get it, we're not crap enough for you huh, well let me tell you something mister, i hate this place and so does my dad. He actually eats kangaroos.

true story.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger chica bonita said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:08 AM, Blogger chica bonita said...

opps, let's try again.

was it blood pudding or black pudding? but whatever it is called, i almost vomited at the sigh of it. they are not meant to be eaten!!!

and austria is celebrating mozart's 150 years birthday this year. i hope to hit germany sometime this year.

i'm sure mahd is saving the best for last, so he will come to australia pretty soon! :-)

At 2:11 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Ireland - you nailed them!

Austria - Mozart chocolate-covered marzipan. Yum!

Wales - How do you know what "eleven year old girls dream about"?

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Mahd said...

old man morri, Australia is a very special place, with very special people. It'll come in a future update. I'd feel like a slacker if I just did one country in an update...

chica bonita, I think they're all different names for the same disgusting thing. Yech.

I have a post for Australia partially done. I just want to keep you in suspense... ;)

ChickyBabe, Austria is just hiding their sordid past by offering sweet desserts. Don't trust them- it's like strangers offering candy.

I'm guessing what 11-year-old girls dream about, having no personal experience with the subject. Well, except for that year when I was "experimenting", but it was just a phase...

At 5:02 PM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

That sounds like a post begging to be written!


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