After yesterday's rather heavy post, I thought I'd share some of my European Adventures to give you a laugh.
In 2008, Brad, Kate and I moved to southwest Germany. We lived for 16 months in Stadelhofen, a small village in the Black Forest of Germany. We were about 20 minutes from the French city of Strasbourg, which is part of the Alsace region in France and it has almost as much German influence as French. Strasbourg was the border city Marie Antoinette travelled through on her way to Versailles. This is my story about the first time I visited Strasbourg.
On Tuesday I went to France. By myself. Well, with Kate of course. One of the other Canadians came by in the morning to say hi and we were chatting and she said they have an Ikea in Strasbourg and I thought to myself, 'Oh yeah? I need a broom and some garbage cans, I might end up going there' I mean, Ikea is the same everywhere, right? So after she left, I googled the store and voila! I got the address and a map. Looking at the driving directions I thought to myself, ah, not so hard, just a right, left, straight, straight, right left, straight, no problem, I can totally do this. So I started off and I drove around Stadelhofen (where I live), then to Apperweir, on to Zusenhofen, and halfway to Ulm, for about 30 minutes trying to find the B28 to Strasbourg because, of course, right off the bat, the instructions were not correct. Anyway, I finally found the highway and I made it to France, which is only about 20 minutes away. So I get on this enormously huge 401-entering-Toronto-esque type highway in France and I'm thinking, Oh God, I will never find my way home, I should turn around right now, but stupid me, I kept going. I followed my directions and found that they were not that bad and that the signs on the roads kind of jived with what was in my instructions, so I followed them and holy mother of God, after about ten nail-biting minutes on the highway, including two exits and another highway I made it to Ikea. Parked, immediately had a cigarette. Contemplated turning right around and going back before I forgot how to get back. No, no, I'll just follow the instructions in reverse, it'll be fine, after all , I made it here, didn't I? And what woman can really resist a beautiful, shiny, blue and yellow Ikea, just beckoning to her? Not me, that's for sure.
Well, I shopped for about twenty minutes, the whole time close to tears, thinking, stupid stupid stupid. Should have waited until Brad was with me, then at least we'd lost together, or I should have printed instructions on how to get BACK, but no, had to go off half-cocked. I bought a dustpan with a brush, a laundry hamper and a stool for Kate. Briefly thought about gathering enough courage to ask a stranger 'Parlez vous anglais?' and then beg for instructions on how to get back to Germany. Decided against it. Got back to the car, drove around Strasbourg for about 15 minutes, getting more and more panicky when I realized I had no idea how to get back on the huge highway that I'd just been on, but in the opposite direction. After passing Ikea several times and realizing that I was just going in circles, I finally swallowed my pride and parked again, went in again (and the whole time I have Kate, so I'm hauling her around) and after about ten minutes of glancing shyly at a young couple and trying to pump up enough courage to use my French, I finally asked them if they spoke English. THANK GOD they did. They started to help me, but an older German gentleman heard and also spoke English, so he instructed me how to get home and I got home in about 35 minutes. Just like that. Ironically, I was on the right highway the first time I left Ikea and chickened out, I just had to go further. Scary as hell, seriously, but I am kind of proud of myself. We had dinner at Brad's friend's house that night and his wife said I was very cool, that she has many girlfriends that would not go to the Ikea in Strasbourg because the highway is too complicated and scary. I did not explain to her that I didn't know any better.
I've come to the conclusion that not only should Google maps tell you HOW to get to a place, they should RATE the route. Like, give it a 1-10 rating, 1 being straight there, no highways or turning and 10 being the craziest, busiest highways and many exits and turns. e.i. 10 being the nail-biting, cigarette-yearning, twisting-hair, most scary-ass thing you have ever done.
You may be asking, what was Kate doing while I was freaking out? She was sleeping. Like a baby you might say. Traitor.