I came back from my two weeks of quick gallivanting around Europe last Saturday. I went to a bunch of cities with different purposes in mind and not counting Austria, (I was in for a full 13 minutes as the bus driver from Liechtenstein stopped to rest) I clocked 6 countries in total: Krakow and Warsaw in Poland, Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium, Luxembourg, Zurich in Switzerland, Liechtenstein and ended the trip in Barcelona, Spain. Oh, I went to Strasbourg, France too. That’s the beauty of Europe, countries are close by, you can pop by on a train and within two hours or so, you are speaking a different language with slight cultural differences, currencies and attitudes.
One thing that struck me on this trip was how everything was a little dejavu. I feel like I’ve been in those old towns, in the same restaurants, in similar set ups on some other trip. Every city has an old town with the ubiquitous clock tower and nicely-restored old buildings.
I also noticed how courteous the drivers are even when I was jay-walking or trying to cross in front of a moving tram. They would stop and wave me off. Amazing! Over here, some ass would always try to run me over at the pedestrian-crossing. I also appreciated how in some of the countries I visited, people didn’t think much of switching from one language to the next to help me understand them.
In Brussels, I sat down with a bunch of European expats and they switched from French to English to Dutch and then some German with such ease that I was so envious of them. I wish I grew up in such an environment. Granted yes, back in Singapore, I thought nothing of switching from English to Malay to Mandarin to understanding my ex-boss in Cantonese and then joking in Hokkien with some crew members but it isn’t really the same, is it?
During the trip, I had a huge case of euro-envy. I defined this for Le Manfriend as a case of penis-envy sans the penis. I liked that no one was staring blatantly at me even when I was dressed normally and lot showing extra skin. Even when I was in my sun dresses, no one bat an eyelid. I can’t do that here without some men gawking. It is one of the frustrating things about living in Istanbul. I think it isn’t just because I am foreign, local women get this treatment too.
The coldest it got was 8 degrees at night in Krakow. I stayed in a hostel amidst the mountains in Liechtenstein and that was pretty cold too. I love it. This tropical girl loves the sun but only if I have easy access to air-condition like hoe we deal with the heat in Singapore - run to a mall. Now I am back in burning hot Istanbul but looking forward to a beach vacation in Belek, Antalya and probably Side where I heard temperatures get up to 50 degrees celcius. Hurrah. Not.
Don’t get me wrong. I will be indoors with the AC and chomping away at the all-inclusive buffet spread for sure.