The first time I traveled out into the world on my own I went to London. I had been there as a child, my parents had packed the car with us 3 kids. I was about 10 so my youngest brother must have been about 3 and drove us down Europe to Calais where we took the ferry to England. We toured most of the Southern parts sleeping in a tent and eating canned food. One of the things I remember best from that trip was London. My mum really wanted to see London so my dad drove us into the city. Now what my parents didn’t know was that Queen Elizabeth apparently had some kind of anniversary, I think wedding, so it was absolutely crawling with people. My dad quickly gave up on the expedition and then spent ages trying to get us out again. Now before this the biggest place I’d seen was Oslo so I remember my childish awe at all the people standing packed together at a zebra cross. I found it absolutely amazing. So of course I had to return.
I left feeling excited and a tad anxious. How would I deal with all the people. I actually did fine. I was visiting a guy I knew who lived there so he was going to show me around. Now my list of things I wanted to see was short and perhaps a bit odd. Being a big Sherlock Holmes fan I of course wanted to see Baker Street. I wanted to see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery and I wanted to try out the tube. I spent a bit under a week only eating McDonalds, I had a panic attack at the National gallery and I discovered that I hated the tube but still it was a pretty great trip.
Some years later I went to Nottingham. I was dating a guy there so I went to visit for a while and whilst he was at work I’d roam the town. Now this was my first time really experiencing the native English without a guide. The guy I was dating acted like Nottingham was the worst place in the world and you were always just a few steps away from being stabbed. I must admit I found that to be a bit silly. I’d lived in a place where a girl got stabbed in walking distance from my home, a kid had been taken and killed and a girl had been dragged through a street of discos without anyone batting an eye. I found Nottingham quite nice and people seemed friendly.
Now experiencing the natives on my own did create a few awkward situations. Apparently “How are ya” is a greeting in that area. No one had told me, so I got a ton of strange looks, especially from the make up counter lady, when I stopped up and said “I’m fine thanks, how are you?”. It wasn’t until I one day came home confused telling then boyfriend about how I didn’t understand why people treated me like I’d run away from the short bus that he explained it to me between laughter.
Now my sightseeing list for Nottingham was even stranger than the London one. I wanted to see a Superdrugs shop, a yarn shop and a Sainsburys. Now cultural differency number 2 happened in I think a Tesco. Boyfriend had gone to the restroom and I was standing outside waiting when a lady came up to me, tapped my shoulder and asked “Darling are you in line?”. Now first as a Dane and just being me I found the whole body contact a bit odd. Now your personal space is probably one of the favourite Dane mottoes. But what really got me was Darling. My first thought was “Whoa lady, we just met!”
A third thing I found a bit odd was the buses. It may be that the German efficiency has rubbed off on Denmark but here if the bus is more than 5 minutes late, the bus is late and we get impatient and slightly annoyed. In Nottingham it seemed like the bus arrived whenever the bus driver felt like it. I must admit that was enough to drive me a bit bonkers. If the sign says the bus leaves 10.15 then the bus leaves at 10.15 and if you don’t make it there on time then too bad for you. I presented my argument for the boyfriend and he was all for the relaxed timetable. As he said “Isn’t it nice that the driver waits for people who are a bit delayed?”. He then made the argument that maybe an old lady with a zimmerframe was at the bus stop 10.16 so surely the bus should wait on her. I told him that then surely the lady could leave the house earlier and not delay the rest of the bus worth of passengers. Suddenly I was an evil person. I have more bus evilness but I’ll stop moaning about the bus system.
Last year I was lucky enough to get the chance to go to Johannesburg. I had never been out of Europe. When I’d travelled to England I’d just flown with Ryan Air. It’s cheap and the trip is always short enough that the lack of extra pampering wasn’t really an issue. Now I must admit I have a tiny evil joy in life that Ryan Air delivers and that is priority boarding. I know it’s pretty much 10£ out the window. Everyone will get a seat and you will get on the plane eventually. But my evil mastermind side thinks that 10£ is so worth it to get ahead of the peasants and to be able to go ahead in line as I do an evil laugh inside and point fingers. Yes, it’s petty but I don’t care for once.
So when I’ve been flying it has been on the smaller regular short trip flights where if you’re hungry or thirsty they’ll demand a kidney and your underwear for a tiny soda. I must admit I’ve never been brave enough to try their food.
Now going to Johannesburg I went first to Paris from Copenhagen. I left in the evening and being used to Ryan Air I bought one of the world’s most expensive yet most horrible sandwich in the airport. So I boarded the Paris flight and was pleasantly surprised when the stewardess gave me two tiny but oh so delicious sandwiches. It was sandwich-orgasm.
Now I will have to say that me and airport queuing don’t seem to get along. I once going back from London ended up queuing 10 minutes in the queue to some place in Poland. So of course Charles de Gaulle airport wasn’t any different. I will say that I was tired, it was past midnight so when a slightly creepy French guy clearly more interested in my boobs than my face waved me into what I thought was my line I was just happy to be able to get a spot. About 10 minutes later I realised that I was in the priority line going to Rio.
I did in the end find my line and got on the right plane. And what a plane. There was two levels and I was in awe. Then there was stewardess giving out free food and drinks and best of all there was a tiny tv where you could watch films. Now this was something I had only seen on the telly so I was mind blown. Talk about the peasant coming to town. I only managed a few hours of sleep. The rest of the time was spend watching films and just being in awe. When I arrived I told my mate about the experience and he was like “On those tiny screens” and I was all “Yes! It was amazing!”.
Now the only cultural clash I seemed to have in Johannesburg was that I removed my shoes when going inside. The hired maid looked at my mate and asked very confused “Did she take off her shoes? Why did she do that?” whilst shooting wierded out glances my way. I didn’t really further out heart felt bond when I asked if I should help with the cleaning.
Who knows what trouble I’ll get into when I soon set foot in Scotland for the first time.