I am aware there are many, many things that people Do Not Understand about my home country, the United States. Some of them I can explain (tax rates are different everywhere! that’s why we add the tax at point of sale and don’t include it in listed prices!); some of them I can’t (but that’s a post for another time).
As a foreigner in the Netherlands, I’m asked quite frequently what I think of this country — often by people who don’t seem to like it all that much themselves.
In fact, the question I probably get more than any other is, “Why would you want to live here?” (Usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and that generally unimpressed tone the Dutch have when they speak in English.)
I can’t speak for everyone (to the shock and chagrin of many, I’m sure). But I would imagine we all have a place that, despite our open minds and best efforts, just didn’t “wow” us. Somewhere we don’t hate, or associate with a terrible experience, but merely wouldn’t think to recommend to our friends while there are so many other options in the world.
I’m not gonna lie: some parts of my visit to the Northland region of New Zealand are…well, a bit fuzzy.
I mean, this was my very first weekend in NZ — in other words, my very first weekend as a solo traveler in a foreign country. I probably still had jet-lag, not to mention I left a blizzard in Minnesota and arrived to the bright sun of incoming summer. Everything was kind of a mess.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about Hamburg.
To start with, let’s talk about the time I thought I would never, ever make it to the top of Hauptkirche St. Michaelis (St. Michael’s Church–or, as it’s apparently known by the people of Hamburg, Michel).
You know you’re still kind of naive about blogging when you think, “Hey, next week I’m going to Hamburg. Maybe when I come home, I’ll write a post about Hamburg.”
For one thing, “when I come home” is an unprecedented deadline around here; currently, my record for longest time elapsed between experience and blog post is something like four years (though that becomes a lot less dramatic when you remember I only started this blog nine months ago).
You may be wondering what I have to say about the London Eye that a) hasn’t been said a thousand times before, or b) you couldn’t discern for yourself by simply looking at it.
The honest answer to that is, not a lot. But that’s the thing about the London Eye: it’s pretty much exactly what, uh, meets the eye (so to speak). There’s not a lot of surprises — which, when it comes to a big metal contraption that lifts you hundreds of feet into the air, some might consider a good thing.
When you originate from a giant country like the U.S. and then move to Europe, it’s practically mandatory for you to go online and gush about traveling to different countries in a single day without breaking a sweat. (Check.)
If I’m going to give anyone a tip about bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, let it be this: do not do it if you’re hungover.
Of course, we all handle our hangovers in different ways. I prefer to drink copious amounts of Coca-Cola and stay as still as possible. Other people might like to hang upside down over rushing water, slowly spinning in circles, waiting for people to release you from a giant rubber band and take you back to solid ground. Whatever. As the kids seem to say these days: do you.