Our destination this time was...
From Montreal we flew to London, then drove up to the north of England, spent six nights there before heading back down to Heathrow catching up with people along the way. We then spent a night in Munich, and from Munich we flew to Sydney, via Heathrow and Dubai airports. We had six nights in Sydney before heading back to Montreal via LA and Dallas (again, airports only, and not the cities sadly).
Now the mad schedule has subsided, the jet lag is beginning to finally fade, and the waking up at 2.30am is getting later and more like normal getting up time, I will start from the beginning of our trip:
It was odd setting foot in England again. Everything seemed so familiar, and yet felt strange.
Take the money for example; I knew what each coin's value was, and yet found myself peering to check before I handed it over to the cashier.
Talking of money, I have a purse specifically for British currency to keep all the cash together and prevent it from being picked up with a handful of Euros or Dollars or whichever currency we are living with, and - in theory - stop any mix ups from happening back in the UK too.
Feeling oh so alert and fresh on one hours sleep after our flight from Montreal, I was buying a bottle of water from a shop in arrivals, and bought out my ' English cash' purse, pretty confident I was handing over pounds and pence to the cashier. My purse-plan was clearly flawed; as the lady behind the counter flipped through the cash she sighed and exclaimed; “That’s not English.”
It wasn't. It was Canadian.
As I scrambled for a fifty pence piece to replace the coin she had rejected, she went on flicking through the small change I had placed in her hand and uttered; “That’s not English either." handing me back a coin which this time was Australian.
Eventually, the water was paid for in legal tender and I was able to continue - somewhat flustered - on my spaced-out way.
One big difference being back was driving on the wrong/right/left-hand side of the road. T drove that first day, thankfully, as there was no way I could have done it. I kept dozing off, and then opening my eyes and for the initial split second my heart leaping into my mouth when I thought T was driving on the wrong side of the road, before realizing to my immense relief he was not.
We kept stopping off at the motorway services to get fresh air, caffeine and sugar power to keep us going, and marvelling at products we never gave a second glance at when we lived in England: Hula Hoops, Pickled Onion flavour Monster Munch, Skips, Polos - Polos! Haven't had a Polo in years! - and of course the Chocolate...so much chocolate....
We had expected England to be greener and to be honest, were disappointed at the winter-brown tinge that still hung over the grass and trees, as we had been looking forward to seeing the green part of this green and pleasant land. But England was going through a cold patch and, as Montreal is beginning to finally warming up, we discovered it was cooler in the UK some days than it was back in our Canadian home.
Our days in England were jam-packed full of catching up with people, which was fantastic. To top it off, we were presented with huge amounts of European chocolate the whole time we were in Europe – thank you!! Much appreciated! We even came away with Easter eggs, a couple of which survived the journey around the world, only to be demolished the night we got back to Montreal. The others powered us through hours sat on planes and overcoming the relentless jet lag.
It was cold back there though!! We considered ourselves hardened to cool temperatures, yet there we both were, teeth chattering, in 2 degrees! I think the UK is much damper, and therefore the cold gets right into your bones...well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
We left England in the midst of a snow shower, and flew to Munich.
It really was a whirlwind stop in the Bavarian city we called home until last September. We arrived at 5pm, checked into our hotel, then went straight over to our friends where, as well as catching up with them and their beautiful new addition to the family I mentioned in my last post, I was instructed on how to cook a plastic egg on a wooden toy oven, and T was told he was no good at the piano by a 2 year old.
We then got up the next morning and had a very quick walk around the city; making the most of stretching our legs and getting fresh air before spending the next 28 hours in airports and on planes. As in England, everything was so familiar but we felt detached from it all. It felt weird staying in a hotel and not returning to our apartment for a start. We knew which travel tickets to get, but the price had gone up. We didn't have to look at the map to see which station to get off the train, and the scenery along the way told us when it was getting close to our stop; but plots of soil and rubble marked where buildings had once stood and new shops replaced old favourites.
It was once a way of life for us; one which is no more. Although moving around is exciting, this is quite a sad thought.
I was at the till in the local store in Montreal after a French lesson the week before we went on our travels, clutching armfuls of maple syrup to take back to England. All my French abilities had gone out of the window after two solid hours of it and so when the checkout lady asked me something in French I had to resort to English. I paid for my maple stash and, as I stuffed my purchases into my bag on the way out, the guy stood behind me in the queue at the till came up and started speaking to me.
I replied. In German. I was totally surprised as the words flowed out of my mouth so naturally. The guy continued our conversation and I managed to keep answering, but eventually I could blag no longer, and, as he asked where in Germany I came from, I stuttered "England." To make it even more strange, it turns out he was Russian...
I was somewhat confused that my English may have sounded German to him, but pleased that my ability of the language has not disappeared completely. I hoped this meant I would be able to get by when we were in Munich and not vanish completely once we landed in Germany.
True to form, I kept uttering French rather than German, the most common being “Merci.” rather than “Danke.”
All too soon it was time to move on again. Checking in to our flight all the way through to Sydney at Munich airport, we had a scare when the check in lady asked us if we had our Australian visa to hand. We explained no, we were going to Australia to pick up our visas.
“I'm sorry but I can’t check you in without seeing your visa." She sternly told us.
"But we are going to Australia to activate it." We pleaded.
"You cannot fly unless I see your visa for Australia."
Had we missed one vital piece of information? Were we going to be able to fly Down Under, or would our trip have to end here???!!
Well, you know the outcome, but this post is long enough so here seems a good place to end.
To be continued...