Last night J-man and I were doing the typical Romanian thing and having a drink in an Irish pub in downtown Brasov, Transylvania.
“Happy three month anniversary,” I said, raising my glass.
“Happy anniversary – we’ve been married for three months!” he replied, then quizically looked at the date on his watch.
Yup, it’s been three months since we got on a jetplane to Thailand. Here in freezing, beautiful, slightly scary Romania, it seems a century ago since we were sitting poolside, sipping cocktails and gorging on seafood banquets. With countless sleeper trains, overnight buses and bouts of explosive weebum now firmly under my (tightening) belt, I would like to share with you a list of things travel has taught me about myself.
A list of things travel has taught me about myself:
– I am not normal.
Most people do the thing where they check for their passport and tickets a couple of times and arrive at the airport/train station with a little time to spare. I feel like I have cooled out a lot since J-man scolded me for dragging him to the bus stop in Amsterdam about four hours before our overnight bus to Berlin was due to leave, but I am still a total freak when it comes to pre-travel preparation. Here’s a little checklist I go through the night before moving onto a new city:
- Check for tickets
- Check time on tickets
- Ask J-man to set alarm
- Pack bag
- Check tickets are still in bag
- Make sure J-man has set the alarm
- Have clothes, shoes and handbag ready next to bed
- Make sure J-man is asleep before I check the tickets again
- Tiptoe over to J-man’s bed to check he has set the alarm
- Lie awake wondering what it will be like if we miss the train and have to spend the rest of our lives in a place called Cluj
- Freak out about whereabouts of passport and rustle around trying to find passport
- Locate passport in the place I always keep it
- Dream about missing train/bus
- Wake up 15 minutes before alarm goes off in order to “clear the decks”, even if not necessasry, to avoid using train/bus toilets
- Wake up long-suffering, easy-going husband and force feed him breakfast at dawn so we can make our 1pm train/bus.
– I can read maps.
I first realised this when J-man and I were in Amsterdam trying to hunt down the Red Light District. J-man, who at this point had christened himself “Papa Compass” thanks in part to the compass on his Jason Bourne-style watch, snatched the map from me and led the way. Into surburbia we went and, upon passing several families with small children, I told him I suspected we were going in the opposite direction. “Trust Papa Compass,” he said. So I let him go, until finally he relented and I – the ever faithful wife – took us directly to where the girls in red boxes were trying to sell sex to drunk Poms.
– I DO have a bladder of steel.
There was a time in my life where I would have to stop to wizz at least twice between Lucknow and Orange. I remember once being so scared to tell my parents I needed to wee during a trip to Tuckerbag, that I snuck off to a neighbouring vacant building, thinking its “To Let” sign said “toilet”. Things have since improved, but suddenly I am the girl who can wait until I GET TO A WHOLE NEW COUNTRY before I wee.
– I am not afraid of germs aka my immune system is awesome!
Sometimes you have to do gross stuff overseas. Sometimes there’re no soap, old-looking sheets, three days of the same socks, two days of the same underpants, sharing train compartments with sickly old people, trusting fellow-hostelers to wash their dishes properly, buying food from dirty-looking bakeries and touching money so brown cavemen probably used it to buy their fur loin cloths. All of this and I haven’t even had so much as caught a sniffle (knocking on closest wood). I rule!
- I am a massive baby and miss my family
- I am a total cheapskate and will not hand over money for anything I do not have to (case in point, both the bras I packed have lost their underwire and my jeans shrunk to kid size in the wash. I scoff at suggestions of replacements)
- I am not yet done with Sydney
- I have the world’s biggest appetite
- I am brave. Sort of.