It's the little things that are different when you're travelling, the minor differences that make make everyday tasks a mini Rubik's cube to be solved under pressure. They jolt you out of your on-rails routine, and that can make you uncomfortable but it can also open up new thought paths, expose new truths, shed new light on your "normal" life. Here's a few examples from our travel so far:
~ The way "Hi" (in English) sounds really similar to "Hej", and because you look a bit Danish it leads to some brutal exposure of your lack of the mother tongue.
~ The way laundromats in England are called "laundrettes" so that when you google laundromat, you end up standing in front of a confused but helpful lady at a professional laundry service.
~ The fact that there is spirit liquor at every supermarket. As a Kiwi, where supermarkets can only sell beer and wine, and where the hard stuff is limited to liquor stores only, this feels really weird. Useful, but weird.
~ The way you just can't resist looking the wrong way when you cross the street, no matter how hard you fight it.
~ When you think you know what a place name in Denmark is called from reading the sign, and then the automated voice on the bus reads it out, and it sounds like she's pashing a fish.
~ The way no hotels seem to have, or even seem to have heard of flannels / face cloths (and sometimes even hand towels) - I had one long conversation with a hotel reception in Paris about what we could possibly want with "small towels".
~ Bikes, everywhere. I mean everywhere. And motorists actually having the patience to let them go first, rather than hooning past them with a middle finger up. And the cool bucket bikes where you can take your kids and your groceries at the same time.
~ Where are the hills? Seriously, Europe is flatter than Bill English's hair.
~ The dismissive way that Belgians talk to you. The concept of customer service has clearly not reached this country.
~ The fact that only 5% of people we waved at on our canal journey actually waved back. Most people stared belligerently at us or turned away. And who doesn't wave back at an adorable 4-year old?
~ The way that all public toilets are at least .50 cents to use. Why charge for a basic human need? And why do you always have to have the exact change? Sigh.
~ The concept of top sheets has not reached Europe and it's incredibly frustrating on a warm night to only have a duvet to contend with. They're also pretty stingy with their second pillow. If you like sleeping with two, you're normally shit-outa luck.
~ The logic of supermarkets is perplexing. There was one supermarket in Belgium that had everything but milk. When we eventually located it, it was all long-life and in the booze aisle...
~ Kids meals. Ok, so we're not flash-hot at them in NZ either. But why does everything have to have french fries and no vegetables? And seriously, you're going to charge us for tomato sauce?
Sometimes there are differences that seem awesome, but most of the time the jarring out of your comfort-zone is confusing or inconvenient and make you value good ol' Aotearoa. A lot of people we talk to can't fathom us traveling so far from home when our own home is so beautiful. Like the Belgian canal boat guy who when he asked where we were from and we answered, "New Zealand", was visibly taken aback - "So you're sitting at home in New Zealand and you think, ok, what about a little canal boat trip in Belgium?".
But we're on a journey. An adventure, and the ups and the downs are what makes it what it is. We're seeing some amazing places, experiencing some crazy things, eating like kings. But no matter where we are, what we're doing, we're still us. We're still taking everything we are and have been through with us. And sometimes that means walking out of a place when a waiter speaks rudely to you (because life's too short to take shit from someone who doesn't matter when you've been through enough already). Sometimes it means having a massive melt-down in public because you've HAD ENOUGH. Sometimes it means needing to lie down and escape everyone and everything despite the beautiful scenery outside your door. I guess what we're saying is that this journey is epic, amazing, and the photos we've shared on our social media pages show some of the highlights. But there are also lowlights, stresses. Because not everything is perfect or easy and that is never captured in a photo. But it wasn't perfect or easy when we were at home living our normal life either. You take yourself with you wherever you go.
We are a family of 3. This blog is the story of how we almost became 4, why we didn’t, and what we are doing to recover from that experience.