The best part about getting bounced from the playoffs early? Extra vacation time. Just ask reliever Sammy Solis, who took full advantage of yet another early exit by the Washington Nationals, who lost in the National League Division Series for the third time in three tries.
Instead of sticking around and watching perhaps the greatest World Series finish ever, the 28-year-old lefty embarked on a 17-day, six-country European jaunt.
“I was so over it by that point,” Solis said of the epic Cubs/Indians affair. “I wanted us to be there so badly and it didn't happen. Any team that wasn't us was going to be bitter.”
So Solis got the heck out of Dodge. On Nov. 1, Solis flew nonstop from Los Angeles (he watched Game 6 in an airport lounge) to London, where he hooked up with former Nats farmhand Brian Dupra. Together, the two ballplayers hopped a connector to Portugal, where they met pal Darrin Campbell (Solis’ college teammate) and kicked off their tour in earnest. If you’re scoring at home, the trip went Lisbon, Portugal, to Barcelona, Spain, to Munich, Germany, to Prague, Czech Republic, to Dublin, Ireland, to London.
Here, Solis breaks down the film. In case you’re wondering, it’s a comedy.
THE HANGOVER: We land in Dublin and we're all really hungover at this point from the night before in Prague. We had an early flight out and all we want is Vietnamese pho, because it’s the hangover food. But we're in Dublin and we're like, 'There's no chance that there's Vietnamese food here.' Well, it turns out that Yelp works over there, and we find a pho place -- it’s like the only place on the island. It ended up being incredible. It saved us.
HOSTEL: In Munich, we decided to go to a hostel, because we kind of wanted to try it. We're on a European trip, so why not give it a shot? Biggest mistake of the trip. It was miserable because you don't know who you're going to get as a roommate. Our room held six people, so we had three other people in there, all in one room. It's three bunks, so you're sharing a bunk with someone. And we had this one guy that was up at 5 a.m., in the bathroom for like 2½ hours. Needless to say, it was a little weird.
LORD OF THE RINGS: The most epic scene was the Cliffs of Moher [in western Ireland]. It looks like it’s straight out of 'Lord of the Rings' or something. Driving out there, it’s pasture all the way, just green farmland. Then you see this tiny sign, and you drive up into this open area where you don't really see anything. You get out and walk over, and it's like 200-foot cliffs off the ocean. In Ireland, you get a lot of fog and rain, so most people don't get to see it the way we did. But we got there and it was perfectly clear. Sunny and 65 degrees. It was unbelievable. We didn't wanna leave, but we had to catch a plane.
LORD OF THE RINGS, PART II: We’re in Prague at this underground restaurant. Brian and I both order a full-on Czech meal, but for some reason, my buddy Darrin orders onion rings and a lemonade. It was by far the worst meal of the trip. We wore him out for that the rest of the time.
LOST IN TRANSLATION: We were trying to find the bus station in Munich to head to Prague, but we couldn’t figure it out and we couldn’t find anyone that spoke English. We have our bags and it's 10 minutes 'til the bus leaves. If we miss it, we either have to spend like $350 on a flight or stay in Munich. So we're sprinting in three different directions. Finally, we find a bus that’s driving by, so we flag him down and get him to pull over. We ask the driver where the hell the station is, and he has no clue what we’re talking about. We try showing him the map. We start pointing at what he’s driving and we’re like, 'Bus! Bus! Bus!' He finally figured it out. Turns out the station was right around the corner the whole time, like 60 feet away from us.
DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR? So we're in Ireland, trying to make the ferry to the Aran Islands, outside of Galway. We're following the GPS that we rented, but it takes us to ... it wasn't even a road. It was like tire tracks through a cow pasture. Like true off-road. We're going like 2 miles an hour, and we’re sure that we’re going to get stuck in the middle of a field 20 miles away from anything in the middle of Ireland and our phones don't work, so what the hell are we gonna do? Finally, we come to this neighborhood, and it opens up to the parking lot for the ferry. But up until that moment, it was nothing but high grassland. And somehow it was on GPS as a true road.
ALMOST FAMOUS: In Ireland, the people are so friendly. So the taxi we took from the airport to the rental car place, we're small-talking and trying to get to know the driver a little bit. He asked what we do. We told him we're all former teammates, and that I play major league baseball. He was blown away. He had no idea about any aspect of the game, so he had a million questions. I never get recognized in D.C. I walk home with the fans and nobody knows.