An idiot abroad

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.


40 thoughts on “An idiot abroad

  1. Sliced Scoth pie and slapped on a piece, smeared with New Zealand butter and marmite!!! You can also dunk it in batter and deep fry it.

    Also deep fried white pudding, and deep fried muhrooms!!!

    Food to die for. :-)))

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A lovely little travelogue, thanks for sharing.

    Firstly: English Terms of Endearment – When greeted by a smile and the utterance “Wocha cock”, that is not an instruction to a male or transvestite to peer at their dangly bit. It’s simply ‘How are you?” in the local lingo.

    Secondly: “Ryan Air. It’s cheap and the trip is always short enough that the lack of extra pampering wasn’t really an issue.” – “Extra”, from Ryanair, you must have been mistaken for royalty. Ryanair, is the airline which once threatened to make its passengers pay to use toilets on board. There is anecdotal evidence that they actually were intending to let passengers have free use of the loo, but planned to charge £1/sheet for bog paper.

    Thirdly: “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.” The locals probably had a day off, that day, so it would actually have been quieter than normal.

    Fourthly: “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.” Your previous’s explanation was possibly correct. We have a saying over here: ‘A bit like London buses. You wait ages for one, then 3x come along at once.’

    Fifthly: “Who knows what trouble I’ll get into when I soon set foot in Scotland for the first time.” Don’t go oggling those strapping lads wearing miniskirts.

    Lastly, a piece of advice: Whatever you do, don’t depart back to Vikingland without having sampled the local gastronomic delicacy:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never been to Scotland either, much to my shame. On my bucket list is a trip to Edinburgh and the Hebridean Islands. But I have tried Haggis. It’s a bit like sausage, but made with mutton and oatmeal (the Scots seem to have a thing about this) and you consume it with Tatties and Neeps. You will have to ask Leggie to explain. But don’t visit Scotland without trying it. Simply divine. Oh and there’s a pudding made with raspberries, cream, oatmeal and whisky called Cranachan, which is also divine. Must try.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I did once suggest to Leggy that we should do a meet up. He wasn’t sure the world was ready for the bunch of us getting drunk together.

      I Googled the tatties and neeps. I knew what tatties were but not neeps. I must admit it looks a bit suspicious and that’s coming from the one who’s lived through several summers of my grandmother’s Norwegian cooking. She likes to boil most things. But then again she did let me live almost an entire summer on burgers with ketchup so I shouldn’t complain. I’ll make sure to try it. I’ll let you know what I think.

      Have you tried fish pudding? It’s a Norwegian thing. It has the consistency as if jelly and choc mouse had a baby but it is made with fish.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haggis came about when the landowners wanted their serfs to give them the meat from their sheep. The boss fellow didn’t much care about the internal organs, which meant the peasants had all the offal to themselves.

        Some recipes for Haggis include bits of kidney and liver, but for the most part it’s the animals’ lungs that are used as well as stacks of oatmeal. The one thing all very good Haggis have is they’re contained within a sheep’s stomach and can be boiled, or wrapped in silver foil with water and cooked in the oven.

        Grant’s make canned Haggis and their cans are in virtually all supermarkets. They also supply pretty close to 100% of the Haggis used in the catering industry. I happen to adore their stuff.

        They get round the fact the only “meat” used is “Lamb’s Lobes” – and that just so happens to be the lungs of the creature. The spices and such are used to give flavour to an otherwise tasteless bit of offal.

        Neeps are Turnips. They’re the winter food staple of dairy farmers because they keep for yonks without any need for special treatment.

        Unfortunately Turnips are now very difficult indeed to get in supermarkets. Mainly i’ts Swedes we can get and while they’re very similar to look at, the Swede takes lots longer to cook and doesn’t have the same flavour as Turnips. Incidentally Swedes are good winter food for pig farmers (though I like them just fine, roasted or boiled).


  4. The first time I traveled on an airplane was on a school skiing trip to Italy. I wasn’t at all interested in skiing; that was to be endured – I just wanted to go to Italy. Unfortunately I wasn’t at all able to get the hang of the button lift and the dishy ski instructor had to take me up on it. Every time.

    I went to India on my own. That was the first and only time so far that I’ve traveled alone. It wasn’t for very long but I still can’t believe I actually did it – mum was going to come with me, but dad said “no”, so went on my own. To spite them, if I’m honest. It was only for 10 days (all I could afford in holiday time and savings), but I saw Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Goa. I had my own car and driver for the Golden Triangle portion. I had a different guide to myself for each place of interest I visited. It was great. It was the worst time of mum’s life though as it was pre-internet and I didn’t call home. On my return I was greeted in Arrivals by a wailing, soggy, snotty mother, who clamped on tight and wouldn’t let go. Until she got a whiff of my trainers, then she couldn’t get away fast enough.

    Liked by 1 person

          • It helped that I was already living on my own, by about a month. I’d just moved into a basement flat. A couple of months later when the little, but unbelievably heavy, Agra marble table top arrived, it was fortunate that I was getting over a bad case of flu, recovering at mum & dad’s, as that’s the address I had got it delivered to, not my flat. Nan would never have been able to lift it, nor been able to pay the £55 quid extra demanded by the postman.

            I did get to sit on an elephant’s head in Jaipur. The animal was placid, yet very prickly at the same time. Quite an experience 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • I have no idea what my parents thought about my heading off to the far east at the age of barely 17 in 1967. I just told them I was going, got the ferry across the channel and stuck my thumb out. For the next couple of years, they got the (very) occasional postcard from Afghanistan, India, Nepal of wherever, but that was the only means of communication in those days. When I arrived back in UK in 1969, my father opened the door, and said “Good Lord, what on earth are you doing here? I thought you were still in Pakistan!”

              I didn’t last long in UK, though. Less than a year later, I was back in Chitral, high in the mountains of the Hindu Kush. And completely incommunicado. You really could disappear back then.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that.
    When I first visited London, a pub that I wanted to visit had a sign saying ‘No travellers’. So I didn’t go in.
    It’s pleasant reading about flying from someone who doesn’t do it very often, as it reminds me of when I started. You could smoke, that helped, and it was fun. Then my flying became more and more frequent until I decided that I wouldn’t travel in Economy any more on long haul. Like you RYR £10 seating, it’s pampering I want.
    I hope that you like Scotland. I’ve been up there a few times The first time was to go to a place called Gardenstown, which mean flying into ABZ. It seems relaxed there although I am sure that a local could put that idea to rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much 🙂
      You could smoke on planes?
      Ohh first class? I’ve never tried that. Is it all magical and amazing?


  6. Make sure you try a Haggis Roll. My older boy studying in Aberdeen says they are so divine that on one occasion a seagull mugged him for the one he was eating, flew off with it and then followed him down the street taunting him with it.

    Oh and watch out for robber-seagulls. The East Scotland ones are the size of small eagles.


    • I believe you are talking about battered haggis, David. Aye. I prefer white pudding, but battered haggis is a close second.

      And seagulls… Those at Dunbar castle are SAVAGE! And not just the seagulls, but the Gannets as well.


  7. I would love to hear more about your trip to Johannesburg as I come from that neck of the woods.
    I love Scotland and have had both my best and worst meals there. Worst in Campbeltown (pronounced Cambletoon) and the best quite nearby in Tarbert. I once mistakenly ordered a scotch pie, it was dripping in grease having been deep fried. One of the most beautiful beaches is Durness. It is such pity that Scotland is being ruined by unsightly wind turbines.
    Have you been warned about the Scottish midges?
    Where I live people do not say good-bye, they say “see you later” or even just “laters” even if your paths are unlikely to cross ever again, never mind later.


    • I’ll see what I can get together. May not be before next week.
      It took me a while to figure out how to pronounce Leicester as I said it as it is spelled. I also got teased by the way I said Nottinghamshire. I said Shire as they do in Lord of the Rings.


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