I often brag to my friends and family, or anyone else who will listen, that I love London. But even the greatest adventures can have their unintended consequences.
I am the perfect case study of self inflicted drama and complications, but I always turn it around and make the best of most situations.
Our last 20 months in London were years in the making and, so far, have been a dream come true.
I love the way that everyone rejoices when the sun makes an appearance. I love that there are no less than six airports that can take you to another country within an hour. I love that it is affordable. I love that it is accommodating to the busy single or couple lifestyle. And I love that the museums are (almost) all free!
While I have loved my time here, I feel that I will be returning home to Australia a changed woman; but possibly not for the better.
London has made me impatient and lazy. I am one of those awful people that roll their eyes and huffs when the Tube is delayed for more than 3 or 4 minutes. Even though I pride myself on being a live-in-tourist, I clench my jaw in frustration when actual tourists clog up the tube with suitcases during peak hour or stand lost in the middle of the narrow footpath with a huge umbrella and their map the wrong way around. I clear my throat loudly when I am waiting for the cashier to finished trawling Facebook when I am waiting to be served.
I swear that I was not this bad when I lived in Australia! But here, I have been spoilt.
London caters well for the busy individual or couple. There is no need to create your own culinary experience when healthy, cheap food comes pre-packaged for easy re-heating. Rooms come fully furnished in well-equipped flats and public transport across the city provides the means to get almost anywhere in greater London within an hour.
Despite the perceptions many people might have about living in a big city, the lifestyle in London seems be laid back and relaxed. On any night during the week you can find someone to have a cheeky pint (or 3) with. When the sun comes out Londoners run outside, roll up their sleeves and simply appreciate the warmth. There are crazy activities happening all the time – a cockroach tour at the Science Museum, a hot tub cinema, live music, free yoga in the park, sport activities, ice skating, numerous tours and limitless shopping opportunities.
When London is operating, it works well. But when one of its components falls out of place, it can be a disaster – especially for someone who has become used a certain standards, such as the Tube running every 2 minutes and foot traffic moving at a quick and steady pace.
It is the quick, instantaneous standard of living that I have become accustomed to. In less than two years I have become used to the unlimited public transport connections, travel opportunities and ease of busy city living.
When we return to Australia, I fear that it will feel like a different planet. Culture Shock is the term usually used when referring to an immigrant or tourist becoming disorientated when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life. But could it apply when you are trying to integrate your way back into an old life?
In less than a month we will be landing in Sydney and battling our way home to Brisbane. It will take longer to fly from one major city to another in our home country than it takes to fly from London to Amsterdam. Once we arrive in Brisbane the public transport is another story altogether. The trains operate every 15 – 20 minutes, while many bus routes are even less frequent. Then there is the cost of food, petrol and beer to contend with.
We often hear of Brissy folk who can’t return home to the “small town living” after their rite of passage in London. Instead, many travellers will move on to bigger things in Sydney or Melbourne. I am afraid that we might be on a similar path.
Will the culture shock of returning to Brisbane be too much for these impatient, lazy honeymooning nomads? Stay tuned!
Check out my Aussie Times column as Honeymooning Nomad.