Sunday, July 8, 2012
Back In The Saddle Again...
And so I have returned! I had planned to post a few days ago but I’ve been a bit tired since getting back. Not jet-lag mind you - I have not yet suffered this phenomenon in my life - just sheer physical exhaustion. Our trip - as our trips almost always are - was a whirlwind tour, we visited 18 cities in just under a month, and walked an average of 11 miles per day. Our shortest day was a merciful 9 miles, and our longest an epic 13 miles. Virtually every minute of our day was packed with some adventure or another. We woke on average between 6-6:45 depending on what the day had in store, and went to bed on average between 11:30 and 1am, depending on what the night had in store. There wasn’t a lot of time for sleep, because I am of the opinion that if you are going to visit a place you best see all of it because there’s no telling whether or not you’ll ever be back, and of course when it comes to myself, I am not - unfortunately - in the habit of doing things twice. Of course a vacation like that does eventually take it’s toll, and by the last few days we had begun slowing down considerably, though it was not near slow enough to set me back to rights by the time I was back in Chicago.
Our first day back my legs simply refused to carry me beyond a few steps at a time, and practically revolted if I had it in mind to travel a greater distance then that from my bedroom to the kitchen. My mind has similarly revolted against even glancing at a textbook, the very thought of which it could barely comprehend and so I’ve been enjoying the past few days curled up on the couch reading fiction. I have given up exercise this week - and even the pretense of it really - I have given up school for the week, and though I have been cooking - of course - I haven’t been cooking anything too elaborate, nor have I been cooking anything of my own. Though this all makes me feel a bit lazy on the one hand, on the other I can appreciate just how welcome this relaxation is.
In addition to battling exhaustion, I’ve also been faced with battling - in a manner of speaking - the massive cultural differences between Europe and America. Strangely enough I didn’t experience any cultural shock going from America to Europe because Europe reminded me so much of home, (Canada.) Coming back however was like a cruel hard slap in the face. Everything is different from the smallest details to just the general way of life and the general attitudes of people, and it seems I am much more suited to the European way of life then I am to the American way. Strange as it may sound in Germany I got so used to the German Language - even if I didn’t always understand it - that my first coupe of days back in the states I found English to be almost bizarre. Our first night in fact we went out for burritos because I wasn’t about to cook dinner, and though our server was speaking perfect English in a completely clear voice it took me several seconds before I could actually comprehend what he was saying. Still my first instinct is to greet people, thank people, and say goodbye to people here in German, and before I open my mouth I have to remind myself to speak in English, haha...
But enough about my difficulties upon being back, the trip was fantastic - epic really! We did so much, saw so much, experienced so much and every moment was beautiful and memorable, even the ones that weren’t. If I could have I would have stayed in Germany much, much longer. It is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever had the privilege to travel to, and I fell in love with it from the moment I stepped off the plane in Munich. I felt very much at home in Germany, - particularly in the Alps - like I belonged there. I didn’t feel awkward or out of place, and for the very first time since my last trip back to Vancouver in 09 I didn’t feel even the tiniest bit homesick.
We also ate amazingly well on our trip. I’ll admit I was a bit concerned. I knew eating Vegan in London would be a snap, London after all is supposedly the most vegetarian friendly city in the world, Germany however I wasn’t so sure about. As it turns out my worries were for naught because we found it to actually be easier to eat Vegan in Germany than it is in Chicago - most of the time anyway. - Veganism may not exactly be ‘popular’ in Germany but there are enough vegan restaurants around to get you through, and vegetarianism seems common enough there. All of the non-vegan restaurants we went to typically had anywhere from several to an entire page of vegetarian options a handful of which were either vegan or could be made that way if you were familiar enough with the language to ask. We ate great, both in London and Germany and tomorrow when I’ve got a bit more time I’ll give you more details about all the wonderful restaurants and cafes we tried. At one of these restaurants I even made a new friend, and of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that while we was abroad I had the opportunity to meet up with my very good friend N from Münster and his lovely lady B. Both of whom were kind enough to play tour guide for us, we had a wonderful time.
Unfortunately I will have to leave it there for now, because I must be off to work, but I’ll be sure to post tomorrow about all those great vegan eats, so stay tuned!