So, we’re back from overseas. It’s been 10 years since I last ventured beyond Australia’s shores, and for the Missies it was their very first taste of being ‘abroad’, and quite a few things made me go hmmmmm…..
Some of the hmmmmm’s are good, some hmmmmm’s are for customs/habits I do not understand. I kept telling The Big Missy (BM) that these things are not wrong they are just different. I talked the talk but not quite sure I walked the walk.
Here they are, some things that made me go hmmmm….
- Driving on the other side of the road. This is wrong. I do not care that half of the world drives on the right-hand side of the road. I do not like it.
- Bikes. No-one warned me about the bike culture of Europe. Germany, Belgium and, in particular, Amsterdam are swamped in bikes. I’m thrilled that they are all superfit (they even ride their bike to the GYM!) but when you’re trying to walk on the footpath it’s incredibly annoying to continually get “dinged” by a bicycle bell because you strayed into the “red zone” (which is the half of the FOOTpath reserved for bikes). There also seem to be no rules about parking your bike; blocking the walking part of the footpath seems to be the thing to do. On the upside of bikes, the stackhat is yet to make an impact in Europe. I gave up bike riding when stackhats became law, so I was pretty thrilled to be able to ride a bike and feel the wind in my locks. The bikes are also more stylish, not the mountain bike style we have in Australia. You sit upright, with heels and skirts no impediment to cycling. The bike I hired to pedal around had a basket on the front and I was seriously tempted to purchase a baguette just so I looked European.
- Frites. With mayo. Mmmmmm….
- Churches and their claims to fame. It seems every church and cathedral has some relic from the bible days. The Dom in Cologne (allegedly) has the remains of the Three Magi (AKA the Three Wise Men) behind the altar. Someone gave them to someone who gave them to someone, as you do with the bodies of dead people. It seems a bit far-fetched that the Three Wise Men were still hanging out together with each other when they died, but I am no religion aficionado so should probably keep my scepticism to myself. In Bruges there’s the Basilica of the Holy Blood, “houses a venerated relic of Christ: his very blood.” Again, someone gave it to someone who gave it someone. I tuned out to the churches claims to fame after those two.
- The shopping centre of Cologne is two paved streets, a bit like the Burke Street Mall in Melbourne but without any trams. There is no public seating anywhere in these two streets. None. Nada. Zilch. I discovered this after purchasing two large cones of frites with mayo and I was looking for somewhere to perch as eating whilst pushing a pram is a trick I am yet to adequately master.
- Belgian food and beer. Mussels, carbonades. Mmmmmmm……
- The stairs in husbands apartment. Eeek. The bedroom and lounge room is upstairs, whilst the bathroom is downstairs. I am not sure if I’ve ever made it through a night without needing, at the very least, one wee and tacking those stairs was a recipe for disaster. So every night when nature called I had to lay there and fully wake up before tackling them.
|The stairs of death|
- Trains that run on time. I’m from Melbourne and the trains barely run, let alone depart and arrive on time. Every train we caught was on time as well as clean. They also have conductors, and they are FRIENDLY! Perhaps the Victorian State Government should use some their taxpayers funds and check out how the rest of the world manage this.
- Walking. We walked everywhere, and when we weren’t walking we were climbing to the tops of bell towers or riding bikes. For someone not inclined toward exercise, this would seem a challenge, but walking in Europe is awesome. You see things you just wouldn’t see from the window of a tour bus. Every new town we tried to walk from the train station to our accommodation. The Big Missy walked, I pushed Little Missy in the pram, whilst the Other Half (OH) had a 12kg back pack on his back and pulled the 22kg wheeled duffel bag. Over cobblestones.
- The size of drinks on planes. Now I know they need to be teeny tiny to fit in the teeny tiny trolleys that need to teeny tiny to fit up the teeny tiny aisles, but a long haul plane trip has approximately the same dehydration risks as the Nullarbor. Those stupid teeny tiny drinks do not help and I blame them for the raging jetlag that set in in both directions.
- Hospitals. Just like the train situation, other places seem to manage the A&E sections of their hospitals better than us. I had cause to find myself in the A&E department of Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital at 1.30am. I was seen straight away, drugs were administered within 10 minutes and I was back at hotel within 90 minutes to reclaim the Missies from the hotel receptionist. Victorian Government, add a visit to Singapore to your list!
- Apart from the hospital visit, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.