Wednesday, January 5, 2011
A Genuine Snow-Kicking Injury
I’m not sure if I’ve made this clear yet, but I am not a summer person. I don’t yearn for long hot days or sun drenched frolicking. As an owner of a Kidman complexion (minus facial immobility, plus freckles, minus alabaster, plus albino) I have learnt to accept that my borderline fluorescent state is a sign that Fate has a sense of humour – why else would she have set me down in Australia? It only seems natural that in between burning, sweating and chafing I spend a lot of time counting down to winter.
That’s the explanation I tried to give to several kindly residents of Europe who expressed concern that I didn’t realize it would be cold in their continent in December. When I got sick of spelling out that reason, I simply informed them the weather had come as a complete surprise to me seeing as I run my life based on the Mayan calendar… then asked them how they felt about the fact that the world was ending in 2012.
Travel offers almost as many life lessons as movies (almost, it is hard to compete with the medium that gave us the word ‘shmashmortion’ as a perfectly acceptable euphemism for ‘abortion’). One of those lessons is undoubtedly…
Be careful what you wish for
Though I longed for snow, I didn’t know quite what I was getting myself in for. The snow that closed down trains and airports wasn’t too bad, the snow that coated the countryside was gorgeous, and the snow that fell as I sipped mulled wine at the Christmas markets in an old German town was perfect. The problem was that in my pure, unbridled cold weather joy I took to expressing my delight aggressively in all the white power and managed to score myself what can only be described as a genuine snow-kicking injury. While it has been a good long while since anyone might have described me as athletic, it’s never easy to explain that you screwed up your knee skipping and cavorting in snow like the child you have long (allegedly) ceased to be.
Some other travel lessons include…
Pay careful attention when booking accommodation
If you don’t you might accidentally find yourself checking into a Christian hostel in Amsterdam, where you are told upon arrival that Jesus loves you and group prayer begins at 10.
Also, if you don’t, you might find yourself bedding down for the night in an old converted hospital that is less hostel, more halfway house, as evidenced by the vaguely homeless looking man wandering the corridors in his underwear.
Think long and hard before spending the night in a caravan
Especially if it’s the perfect size for 2 people and there are 4 of you. This is also a bad time to discover you might be slightly claustrophobic.
Accept compliments, they will often be thin on the ground
A charming Columbian girl I was sharing a dorm with one night explained that she was working on perfecting her 3rd language (French).
Me: Wow, 3 languages, that’s phenomenal. I spend enough time struggling with English.
Columbian Girl: Your English is really quite good.
Me: (after considering my response options) Thank you, my parents were really insistent that I make an effort with it.
Embrace cultural experiences
When in Belgium, there’s nothing wrong with eating a chocolate Belgian waffle each morning for breakfast. That’s just showing a little thing I like to call ‘respect’. Needless to say my eating tour of Europe was very respectful.
Customs officials are universally humourless
Don’t try, you won’t be funny.