I don’t know about you, but I’m already tired of the whole situation around us, reading news, stress and worries about the future. Therefore, when I sat down today to record a podcast (in the garage, in the car, because my boyfriend works in the home office in the apartment) I decided that today there will be nothing “useful”. I need something carefree. Something that will suit the April sunbathing on the balcony, in the warm sun and cold wind. That’s why I have a few travel memories for you – some wonders, like the moon upside down, and some awkwardness, like chopping pasta with a knife. I invite you – take a breath and let yourself chill.
Some time ago I was in Seattle, at an impro festival, where as usual on such occasions, the cast was international. And one day we went to the market with a group of Europeans (it’s important) to buy beer and take it to the hostel. The store was quite big, with two floors. We took a beer and stopped at the cash registers. There were no queues, we split to go to several cashers. And the cashier looks at me and asks “Hi, how are you?” … and I look suspiciously thinking “do I know you? Why would you ask that?” Because why would anyone talk to strangers? But I guess, you’re in America, act like Americans. So I answer, thank you, that I came here to the impro festival, that is happening around the corner, down the street as if he wants to come … and then I see that he looks at me with the expression “do I know yoy? Why are you answering? “… and if that was not enough, he could not scan my ID, because the scanner was apparently for only Americans, so he had to call the manager to come to approve from the lower floor. And the rest of the cashiers had to do the same … and in this way, they were imprisoned for a good 7 minutes with Europeans who all answered their questions.
Because why would someone ask a question while not wanting to hear the answer?
Taught by previous experience, I didn’t answer people how I was anymore, just answered “good, thank you” or “good, and you?” without looking that person in the eye. Then I stood at the cash register in the supermarket, but this time in Australia. The cashier asked, “hello, how are you?” And according to the procedures I replied, “Okay, thank you, and you?” And he surprisingly answered that it was a good day today, sunny, warm, all good. Well, ok, we’re done here. I pay, and accidentaly gave him 10 Euros, not 10 dollars, and he gave it back telling me that’s not the right money, I laughed, I said I’m sorry and that I just arrived from Europe. And he was totally interested and asking where I am from and what our travel plan is, and that the tents are great, and that this style of travel is the coolest, that he is jealous and cheers and wishes us good luck.
And I left the cash register thinking, “Do I know you? I think I do now. ”
Canberra – Melbourne – Sydney
Speaking of Australia, how strange is this place? And not snakes and spiders, because it was the customs officer at the airport who told us when we asked that it was exactly how Europeans imagine Australia, but it is not that bad, and that he has not seen such things for years.
But. Here is the first thing that sounds strange, but it’s “probably because we were in the south”. And for us south sounds like heat and scorpions, but it’s the opposite. The further south, the further from the equator and the milder the climate. When we were sitting on the beach near Melbourne, on the southern shore of the continent, we realized that the nearest land is … Antarctica. Oook.
In general, it is a place that seems completely normal to us, it is like home, but … you feel that something is not right. You look at the stars and they are not exactly the same stars. You listen to the sounds of night animals from the tent and these are not the sounds you know. One evening I looked at the sky and said that it is a pity that we missed the full moon, and I don’t know how, since we slept in campings, but the moon is already waning, shame. The next night … it was full moon. Which is logical, but somehow it is not obvious to you that you are looking upside down at the moon, so the phases are reversed!
And one more strange thing was, that we couldn’t drive the car after dark, and our insurance did not cover it at all. Why? Because of the kangaroos, which have only been looking for opportunities to jump on the car since dusk. And speaking of kangaroos … We had totally normal family bbq, but… we also made kangaroo burgers on grill. And this is some kind of cognitive dissonance for someone from Europe, but what … they were tasty.
Speaking of food, there is no other nation so obsessed with food as Italians. First time I felt their disappointment when we went to eat something during the workshop break, around noon or 1pm. I ordered a pizza (duh), and as usual during a short break in my day-long training, a coffee. And as I like my coffe with milk, I asked for a cappuccino. When I said that, they all became silent, and the waitress looked at me, looked at my Italian companions and asked in Italian, “is she serious?” There was silence. The waitress asked in Italian if I was a tourist, they said yes. I got my cappuccino in an aura of scandal.
I don’t understand their meal times at all. We say that breakfast should be like for a king, lunch as for a prince, and dinner as for a beggar. They do the opposite. How can you not eat breakfast? For them, breakfast is a tiny coffee and a tiny cookie. How can I function, how am I supposed to have the strength to go on with the day? On the other hand, dinner is at 11pm. Starters, then pizza and then pasta. I’m not kidding, when you finish one main course, they ask if you want to choose meat or pasta now. And then dessert. And liqueur. I don’t know how everyone is not fat, but maybe that’s why they don’t want to eat later for half a day?
Recently in Rome, also during a workshop break, we went to eat something with people, they chose … a Thai restaurant… because they have Italian food every day … <tear> … and what did they do? They ordered a pasta anyway. And we ate this pad thai, and I had some kind of tangled noodles on the plate, I took a knife and cut it. And then the whole table froze. I thought, man, what now? And the Italian asked what wa I doing with this knife. I said I had my pasta tangled. And she said, that every time I cut pasta with a knife, one Italian grandmother dies. I looked into her eyes and asked if she knows what children’s favorite dish is in Poland in the summer. Pasta with strawberries and cream. And she looked into my eyes and said, that every time you eat pasta with strawberries and cream, the whole house full of Italian grandmas die.
This part didn’t happen in Finland, but contains Finns. They were in Gdansk when I organized international workshops at the university. I took them to explore the 3-City. I said, what the plan was, and that we could also go to Sopot and go to molo – I used this word, adding that I do not know how the pier is in English. They began to giggle. I added that it is probably still the longest wooden pier in Europe, for which they began to laugh. I looked at them and I didn’t know what’s going on, so I asked what this means in Finnish. They said, still laughing, that the molo “is a big, a bit offensive penis that you have LIKE HERE,” they add, extending their forearm and a clenched fist dangling around the face. I said WHAT, and they said again that “it’s such a big, a bit offensive penis that you have like HERE”. I found fascinating that this is a VERY specific description of a specific type of penis and do they have equally specific words for others? And they started talking… word for a soft one, for a big like a HORSE, and others … until I asked how it was possible that they have so many different expressions when we have roughly more or less vulgar and that’s it. What they said – SAUNA. That they have been sitting naked in the sauna since childhood, it’s just how much they’ve looked at them.
Oh, when we got to the pier, they saw the Koło Molo (Next to the Pier) cafe and again laughed and I asked WHAT AGAIN, and they say that kolo sounded like a hole or something wilke vagina or hole… and then they took a lot of photos.
Some time ago I was a guest of the Easylaughs theater in Amsterdam, and one part of our show was the history of a small town. I was supposed to be a town from the country of which their guest was. Jochem asked me “what is such a small town near Bydgoszcz?” – because he was proud of himself, that he can say “Bydgoszcz”. I said that I don’t know the towns near Bydgoszcz, but as I am from Gdynia, I can give a name of a smaller city that is easy for them to pronounce – and that was Rumia – but near Gdynia, not near Bydgoszcz. Jochem said it’s good, nobody will know. I said “yeah, sure, buuuutt it’s nooot next to Bydgoszcz but Gdyyniaa but ok.”
At the beginning of the show, Jochem went on stage to announce the show and said “Welcome to Rumia, a small city near Bydgoszcz” … and then we heard a voice “NO IT’S NOT” from the audience (in Amsterdam). I asked “Excuse me?”, She said “Rumia is not near Bydgoszcz”. “And where is it?” “Near Gdynia”. BOOM! And I thought, see Jochem, audience may know more than we think! After the show, this girl, from Poland, came to us with her Dutch boyfriend and said that they recently visited a friend … in Rumia, because he bought a house there. HA!
This situation took place in Estonia, but is about Latvians. Well, during the TILT festival in Tallinn, the Troika from Latvia performed and asked at the beginning to which country overseas US their characters could move to – and someone said Poland (and it wasn’t us). And they played, in general, a very funny story, but in which the characters rolled on the sidewalks in Poland, because on Sunday nothing was open, no shop and no restaurant, and they were starving, dreaming of pancakes. We looked at each other doing yyyyhm, ohhhhh, yeah, yeah, yyyyhm. And then, when it was our turn to perform, we played in one scene a parody of that, where no cars were on the streets, and everyone had to stay at home, because you are not allowed to go outside… on Sunday, in Latvia.
And back then it was very funny. I thought of that recently. And I thought … that we couldn’t have known then that this would be our life in half a year.