This blog entry about the events of Friday, September 17, 2004 was originally posted on September 24, 2006.

DAY 24:  To leave Oktoberfest is quite possibly the ultimate buzzkill, although it was probably best to leave after only two days to leave on a high note.  Like my experience at my brother’s bachelor party in Las Vegas, anything longer than three days and you cross the threshold; a fourth day is not nearly as fun as the first day, just like the fourth breadstick is never as good as the first in the unlimited breadstick deal at the Olive Garden.

What I didn’t realize when I woke up that last day of my trip — the 24th day of “Tomatoes, Grease & Beer” — was that the act of leaving Oktoberfest wasn’t the only buzzkill.

“TEAM CROSSBOW sticks together!” Terence proclaimed at the stupid o’clock hour of 4 a.m., just two short hours after I’d settled back into the hotel room after a night out of beer, singing, dancing, beer, chicken, Chick of the Day, beer, roller coasters, Spongebob Squarepants, and beer.  The reason for such a rude awakening was that we were to send Paul off to the train station so he could get to his early morning flight back to Miami via Madrid.

“Yeah, I could do that,” I said all groggy-eyed and with a slight headache.

Terence and I were just tagging along in the name of Team Crossbow; originally it was just Jack who was going to see his brother off in the wee hours — it was the least he could do since Paul would be lugging a big suitcase for him, one of several bags of stuff in his move back to the USA.  The four of us walked passed the neon lights of strip clubs to the Hauptbahnhof, where Paul made it on the train to the Munchen Flughafen just in time.  It was the first opportunity to really use one of the inside puns of the trip:  “Later, hosen.”

*DING* *DING*, *DIING* *DIIING*... went the Jetsons’ doorbell ring tone of my Motorola RAZR around six in the morning.  It woke me up — but not in time for me to grab the phone and answer.  The Received Calls log said that Jack had called, and I assumed it was an error since he was passed out in his bed.  I went back to sleep and didn’t really think about it.  I mean, I was hungover.

One last fill of Hotel Italia’s breakfast buffet later, Jack, Terence and I made our way to the train station to get to the airport in time for Terence’s noon flight.  “Uh guys, do you think we have like five minutes to stop and get some souvenirs?” Jack said, all casually in his laid-back ways.  He couldn’t go back to his girlfriend and friends in Barcelona empty-handed.

“We really have to go now,” I urged him.  We were already running late; it was way beyond the suggested check-in time for an international flight and we weren’t even at the airport yet.

“But what are you gonna do at the airport?  Drink beers?” Jack said, still asleep from the seriousness of our tardiness.  From my experience, he was notorious for rushing after the act of thinking he had time to spare.

“I gotta get on a plane!” Terence reminded him.  We left him at the shop to meet him at the airport later if we could — a good move too because Terence and I just made it on the next train to the airport and the following would be a whole twenty minutes later.

*DING* *DING*, *DIING* *DIIING*... went the Jetsons’ doorbell on my phone right as we arrived at the airport’s train platform.  I wasn’t quick enough to answer it before it stopped ringing.  Then, two minutes later it rang again — Caller ID said that Jack was calling again.  (At the time, I didn’t realize that Paul was using Jack’s old phone and number from Miami.)

“Hello?  Jackie?”

“No, it’s Paul,” said Paul on the other line.  “Is my brother with you?”

“[No, he’s still buying souvenirs.  He’ll be here soon.]”

Paul had just landed in Madrid for his layover, but had an urgent message: “Tell Terence to lose the beer mug.”  Paul had been caught at the airport security check in Munich with beer steins from one of the festhalles at Oktoberfest.  Apparently having them in possession is considered theft of private property, a crime so serious that they even stop you at the airport for it.  Paul had been hassled by security like he might have even got arrested for it, and had to pay a fine of 100 euros — all to have the steins taken away from him too.  The four of us had no idea it was such an offense, and Paul learned the hard way for us.  I relayed the information to Terence.

“Paul is the Grand Master Falconer!!!” he said.  We thanked Paul for the heads up and devised a plan:  Terence would simply leave his stein in a bathroom stall.  Terence’s flight was already in the midst of check-in, so he figured he’d check in first — the security X-ray check wouldn’t come until after.  On line, he looked rather suspicious since he was sweating profusely — something he does regardless of carrying stolen property.  He really started sweating when the check-in counter wanted to inspect the insides of his bag since he only had a carry-on.  Fortunately for him, they only glanced in the bag and the stein was at the bottom underneath a shirt or something.

Meanwhile I was trying to call Jack on his Spanish phone number, but like before I couldn’t connect to it.  I ended up using a credit card to call a call center in Canada to relay back to a Spanish phone in Germany to tell Jack the news.  Unbeknownst to me, Jack didn’t have a stein with him; Paul had been carrying his for him.

Terence met me after checking in and we went downstairs by the men’s room.  I stood guard by the door with my luggage trolley, while Terence did the deed.  “This is so Ocean’s Twelve,” he said.  Shortly thereafter, Jack showed up and we brought him up to speed before Terence rushed off to security, stein-free.

I had a little time to kill as my headache came in and out.  I bought a souvenir liter-sized beer stein with the official Oktoberfest logo (not an unlawful one with an brewery logo, picture above), and hung out with Jack for a few final thoughts.

“You know I was thinking the train ride over here, this was the best year of my life, man,” Jack raved.  “[I traveled Europe for two months, then lived in Malaga for seven, eight months.  Went to Tomatina, and now Oktoberfest.]”  Good for him, I thought, smiling.  Anyone who lives life living life rather than doing the regular job, house and kids thing right away gets crazy falcon points in my book.  However, his parade would end since he was out of funds and would start a new life with a new job.

We parted ways as I went off to the security check, disbanding the last two remaining members of Team Crossbow.  It wasn’t a goodbye — he’d eventually try and relocate back to the New York/New Jersey area after all — so it was just another moment to bid a “Later, hosen.”

“[WHAT DO YOU HAVE HERE?]” said the suspicious security guard after X-raying my bag.  He’d seen on the monitor I was carrying the Oktoberfest beer stein I’d just got at the airport.

“That’s new,” I told him.

“Maybe, I will check,” he said, thinking I was trying to pull a fast one on him by making it seem that way.  The guy went as far as to rip the tape and unwrap the packaging padding paper the woman at the store had done for me — only to confirm that I wasn’t carrying stolen property.  I marveled at the fact that he was more concerned with my empty beer mug than the half full bottle of blue Powerade I had with me — how did he know it wasn’t actually a bottle of explosive ammonia?

THE NEXT BUZZKILL of the day came during my layover in Paris — anyone who’s tried to get around on any day at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport knows what I’m talking about.  The place is constantly under construction and planes don’t dock into terminals.  They park on tarmacs and buses pick passengers up to bring them there.  That’s not so bad, but the buses always take the longest, most indirect route to your gate.  Plus often times you can’t switch terminals to a connecting flight without riding another roundabout bus, only to board yet another bus to get to the plane.  And for some reason, Air France only gives you the impossible layover time of about an hour — barely enough time to wait for and ride three buses, let alone get through security checkpoints — and they even warn you on your ticket that “it might take 45 minutes to get to your connecting flight, sorry for the inconvenience.”

The whole transfer thing made my little hangover headache bigger, and to top the buzzkill off, none of the airport shops were allowed to sell headache medicine — I’d have to take a bus all the way to and from Terminal 2F, home of the only pharmacy.  Of course I didn’t have enough time to do that, and just rushed off to my gate where half the passengers had boarded the shuttle bus to the plane already.  I was already passed the random screenings and outside on my way to the bus, when a security guard actually ran towards me to stop me for a second screening — must have been my dark, Greek sun-baked skin.  He searched my bag inside and out, frisked me where the sun don’t shine, and even checked inside my shoes — even underneath my Dr. Scholl’s insoles.  To be fair, he was just covering his own ass as a designated preventative line of defense; any flight into New York was under extreme scrutinization since every world leader was flying in at the same time for the UN General Assembly.

Headache on the flight back to New York = buzzkill.  Broken headset = another buzzkill.  The screening of Nacho Libre was my saving grace, but with a broken headset, it was a buzzkill.  Without being able to hear Jack Black’s hilarious attempts at doing a Mexican accent, I slept for most of the ride.

The final buzzkill came in New York when I arrived, but my bags didn’t.  It didn’t surprise me; I barely had enough time to transfer planes myself, let alone my bag — it wouldn’t fly to New York until the next day.  I was instructed to go to the Air France baggage services office to file a claim.

“[When should I expect to get it?]” I asked the lady at the counter, a sarcastic New Yorker with the accent that was refreshing to hear.

“[Not until tomorrow, between nine and five,]” she said.  “Unless you live on the east side.”

More shit for living on the east side again, I thought.  (I hadn’t gotten it since Athens.)  I’m home.  But the woman told me that it was due to the fact that most of the east side of Manhattan was closed off to traffic since “the president’s in town again, causing trouble.”  She got my information and gave me an Air France care package with a free Air France T-shirt inside.  “Here, in case you need to stay overnight,” she said sarcastically.  While I thought that was funny, what I didn’t find humorous was Air France.  I vowed never to take them again since I’d always had a bad experience with them — I only took them this time because I had a voucher from a bumped flight back home on my Timbuktu trip.  (Air France was the only international carrier into Mali, so I had no choice in the matter back then.) 

ANYWAY, despite the buzzkills of re-entry, I have to say it was a great three and a half week jaunt through Europe again: flying tomatoes, ancient ruins, octopus tentacles, gorge hikes, beaches, boats, Greek raki, Bavarian beer, old friends and new ones.  It truly rejuvenated my wanderlust and my joys of travel writing, and I actually returned a refreshed, new man.

“So where’s the next trip?” Jack had asked me (for himself and probably on behalf of thousands out there reading this blog).

“I dunno,” I answered.  “It will just come to me.”  And one day it will, like a tomato in the face or a beer in a stein — just not one of the ones we tried to get away with.

Next entry: Welcome to version 3.0!

Previous entry: Team Crossbow

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Comments for “Buzzkill”

  • The End. (for now)

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • *sniffle sniffle*
    glad you made it back safe and sound - despite Air France’s attempts to
    drive you nuts. Be well.

    Posted by funchilde  on  09/24  at  09:37 PM

  • And we’re done. Bummer.
    But hey, it was a fun three weeks. Thanks for sharing the adventure with
    us. Looking forward to the next trip…

    Posted by Dan 3  on  09/24  at  10:38 PM

  • and another one under your belt…

    Posted by markyt  on  09/25  at  12:55 AM

  • Erik, these short trips are such a tease. Now I will go through
    withdrawal all over again! But I must say it was a great ride to be
    travelling vicariously/embedded with you once again.(You need to do
    another RTW!) Take care and make sure you let us know when the next one
    starts…........til then.

    Posted by Janice  on  09/25  at  01:46 AM

  • Wow….what a great read! I was right guessing the beer steins! Just a
    good guess! I will miss this blog but I know more will come again! Rose

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/25  at  04:12 AM

  • Great stories. I had just finished Global Trip 2 a few weeks ago and had
    been a SBR on your latest trip. Glad to see you are still keeping a
    travel blog.

    /Shockingly/ your writing is actually useful when scouting out travel
    destinations. In a way, you???re kind of like a movie critic. Once you???ve
    seen a few movies that a critic has reviewed you get a feel for the
    critic???s personality and likes and dislikes. Once you have that
    baseline, their reviews are useful whether you agree with the critic or
    not. It???s the same with your travel stories. Since I???ve been to a few of
    the places you???ve written about, I have a pretty good idea of your point
    of view and can take your stories with a grain of salt (and a shot of
    tequila) and learn about other great spots I might want to visit.

    Next time you???re in Vegas let me know and I will hook you up (or at
    least provide hot single girls you can hit on).

    Posted by Mark B  on  09/25  at  05:23 AM

  • Erik, another great job of blog writing with regards to your trip. It
    was very enjoyable to read each morning!

    Now, how about a trip to all the 7,000 islands in the Philippines! j/k!

    Looking forward to your next travel adventure, etc. Be well everyone!

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/25  at  02:37 PM

  • hey erik! i’ll be in nyc Oct 26 - 30th… for an AIGA conference. the
    last day is the 28th (your b-day, right?) let me know what your plans
    are. if you can plan that far in advance!

    Posted by civil013  on  09/26  at  05:38 PM

  • fun times. Thanks for the tour… I need to travel again… I’m thinking
    next fall.

    Posted by tallgirl

  • <>
    hey popular guy, answer your freaking calls


    just kidding, i know u only want to answer to blond girls with huge
    racks and minds of a monkey. but seriously, its me, Alex, the
    argentinian, we met in person for the first time at the Welcoming Party
    on the LES of Manhattan.
    i been reading a little about your new trip but i am now in Aspen for
    the winter season. I plan to snowboard as much as i can and work too little.
    here we just got some dumps but we need more of the white.
    take care and like i said, PICK UP YOUR FREAKING PHONE!

    Posted by Alex el argentino con las empanadas  on  11/11  at  09:45 PM

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This blog post is one of twenty-five travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Tomatoes, Grease & Beer" (originally hosted by, which chronicled a trip to Spain's wild Tomatina festival, Greece's awe-inspiring islands, and Munich's world-renowned Oktoberfest in August/September 2006.

Next entry:
Welcome to version 3.0!

Previous entry:
Team Crossbow


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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