I am back from quite a trip: A wedding in Frankfurt, visiting family and friends in my hometown Bonn, running a marathon in Venice (and exploring the city) and finally celebrating a friend’s diploma in London (and exploring the city as well).
It was indeed quite a trip and the first night back in my own bed was – I have to admit – paradise Although I wouldn’t want to miss any of the other nights those last two weeks.
One particular experience and actual major culture shock was coming from Venice to London. Since our flight (I was travelling with a friend) was delayed by more than three hours due to the storm that hit Europe last week we did not get into London early in the afternoon but instead during rush hour. Also I had to cope with quite some sore muscles just one day after an unforgettably awesome marathon and at the same time get my luggage moving through London’s well intertwined and especially during this time of day bustling tube.
Lesson learned – never travel the day after a 42k-race.
Coming from a slow touristy strolling pace one adopts when in Venice and suddenly rushing with one’s belongings through London – probably one of the busiest and most crowded and most thought-out European cities – hit me like leaving a well air-conditioned grocery store in sticky high season Thailand. BAM!
But instead of just standing around or even better go somewhere for a cup of tea and wait for the rush hour to calm down (or end) we just blended into the masses of moving people like adrenalin-fuelled blood pumping through veins (and silently repeated calming mantras).
Maybe the change of weather also played a part in this particular culture shock: We had left Venice on a mild sunny Monday morning, sweating already for we were wearing cardigans and scarfs in preparation for the air condition on the flight and an expected windy London. The days before we enjoyed mostly sunny indian summer-like times outside, only zipping up our light jackets after walking home from dinner. In comparison, London presented itself as cliché as it can get: rainy, stormy, windy, grey.
Looking back and finding the time to re-live these moments in my head I find it astonishing of how quickly we adapt to a particular behaviour or rituals or even (secret) rules. There was literally no moment to stop and carefully walk down the stairs with my f#### heavy suitcase in the stations of London tube (my legs were in such a pain….marathon, hello?!) – other people would have bumped into me causing an unexpected interruption in the whole flow. Or system. Do not interrupt the system.
As this may sound like a complaint about the London tube: It’s not! The Venice touristy strolling pace is actually too slow for me in general but okay for few days. My days in London may even have helped to slowly familiarize with an every day (working) pace as I am going back to work soon. What a trip. What an experience.