The most important rule I like to follow when it comes to telling my travel stories is to have a good mix of information and humor. Some parts may be more or less amplified than others but this is pretty much how it all happened to me all over the world. Many more travel stories are only available in german, yet.
The night of November 23rd 2015
After an exhausting weekend in London, during which the nightly amount of sleep was almost as low as our hotel’s star count – namely zero – my sisters and I sprinted through the London Stansted Airport, completely disregarding our appearances. Nathi shoved a little girl aside who, annoyingly sucking on a lollipop, stepped in her way. Kathi took a flying leap to avoid three hugh suitcases. Their owners just glanced at her and kept pushing them towards the security zone. I contorted myself to blow through the crowd like smoke.
Freeze frame. What had happened so far?
We had planned a last-minute trip to London to see Zebrahead and Patent Pending – two american punk rock bands – live in concert. Shamefully little effort had been put into the organisational issues of our journey by any one of us, though. So it was hardly surprising that our time management was as insufficient as ever, almost resulting in missing our bus to the hostel in Southend-on-Sea, a little outside of London. To be fair to ourselves, I have to mention the ridiculously uncreative assignment of names to bus stops in the UK. We had difficulties finding our coach at the “Victoria Coach Station”, because we stopped by the “Victoria Station”, the “Coach Station Victoria Street” and the “Victoria Street Coach Station” first, absolutely convinced to finally have reached our destination every single time. Eventually we caught our coach, because luckily it was delayed – thank god for that burst tire.
The main act of the following night was Zebrahead. We had been to a couple of their shows back in Germany and I had even met the guys backstage. They were super nice and gave me free beer: Sweet! The band represents kind of a bond that keeps me and my sisters connected even when far apart.
Just before the show we met a few fellow fans. There are several faces you see at almost every show, so we already knew parts of the crowd before the concert had even started. We had cider in front of the venue – because in europe you can – and talked about our favorite Zebrahead show.
One fan mentioned that once the band’s rapper, Ali, had fallen off stage and grabbed her boob in the process. She was absolutely excited about that still. Ali had to be rushed to the hospital after the fall, she later added, and probably wouldn’t remember this incident due to his injuries.
As expected, Zebrahead performed outstandingly well. They brought an energy to the stage you rarely see anymore. Their high level of crowd-interaction promotes a unique atmosphere which makes you want to befriend everyone at the venue. And you know what? You can, because all the other fans will just join in to your singing, hugging and even kissing at times – at least I was kissed by this big, hairy guy… Their musical style is comparable to Rage against the Machine but their live shows certainly are incomparable.
Anyway, the show was brilliant and after a quick talk to the band concerning their new album, we left the venue, still partly deaf and completely dehydrated. To rehydrate we looked around for a takeaway or something similar. And we found something similar. A fish ‘n chips shop. How original is that? We thought that now that we were here, we might as well go for some food and we ordered the only food on the menu: Fish 'n chips. I was just about to ask for a Black Earl with milk to complete the picture, as five tipsy ladies – and with tipsy I mean temporarily braindead in a british manner, which I knew so well from my time in New Zealand and by ladies I mean how much of a lady you can still be after downing a bottle of vodka – entered the shop. Guessing that the shop’s owner would have enough to worry about now, we quickly left the takeaway and followed the dimly-lit streets back to our hostel.
The next day we didn’t have any trouble catching our bus to the airport, because we had planned ahead since we didn’t want to rush this time. Five minutes into the bus ride the vehicle came to a hold. Quite surprised I looked out the window an saw what would come to be our doom: We were caught up in one of London’s famous traffic jams.
So here we were at the airport, just where the frame froze earlier. Defreeze.
The german comedian Marc-Uwe Kling once said that the airport is a laboratory to explore how much crap people will take for no apparent reason before they complain. Taking into account the following events, I’m forced to agree to this dystopian perspective.
As we approached the discouragingly long line in front of the "I'm going to take away your water so you can buy a new bottle for $7"-station, a security officers smiled and pointed us to a sign saying “Fast Lane”. After we had payed $10 – each - for instant access to the security check – may the poor people cue – Kathi and I slipped right through the check. Nathi was separated from our group because one of our bags was queried – for completely unjustified reasons, as we found out later – so Kathi and I ran for it, to prevent the airline staff from closing the doors.
What we didn’t know yet, was that we had just commenced a race against time, we just couldn’t win at this airport. One mile of artificial distance extension which would have brought tears to the eyes of every consumerist, separated us from our gate. Sales persons threw themselves at us , sprayed us with perfume and cried out: “But that’s duty free!”. I felt like Gimli the dwarf at the battle of helms deep pushing the sales persons out of my way and as I glanced at my sister in combat, I could see an elvish sparkle in here eye and a strand of her hair seemed to be of a golden blonde for a second. We pushed and pressed forward until we made it to the gate… But where was Nathi? She was nowhere to be seen. Just seconds before Nathi reached the gate, Moria’s gate collapsed, Caradhras broke to pieces or in non-nerd terms: The airline staff had closed the doors on us. The fellowship had departed and we couldn't count on the eagles to save us either.
Back in the transit area – Nathi had rushed to the restroom after telling us about this stupid bitch who had taken hours at the security check because apparently she was stupid and had participated in an aviation event for the first time in her meaningless life – we met a german couple. We told them about this dumb person and how people were still idiotic enough to not know which items to bag before they wanted to proceed to the transit area.
“How can you be so stupid?” my sister asked.
We insulted the person who had cost us our flight back home in ways we wouldn’t be proud of today. We went on and on about this idiotic girl until my sister slowly stopped and poked me. I paused my seemingly endless stream of, what I thought of as more and more creative ways to call an idiot. She pointed at the german couple. In fact, they had been suspiciously quiet. They were looking at the ground rather intensely. Kathi pointed at all the unsufficiently bagged items next to the girl’s hand luggage. When Nathi returned just a few seconds after Kathi’s and my epiphany, her smile turned into a frown. What followed was an awkward silence. It was so awkward I had to suck in every last moment of it. I didn’t know whether there would ever be a situation this awkward in my life ever again. Especially because we all knew who was who and we weren’t allowed to leave until a security officer came and brought us back to the waiting area.
Finally, a security officer arrived and led us to freedom. We didn’t see that couple again. They just vanished after returning to the ‘real world’. All this resulted in us having to spend the night on an uncomfortable bench at the airport and having to buy expensive additional tickets to take us home. These were certainly two of the most crazy days of my life and I’m happy they happened just like they did. Because what would I have to tell you if they didn’t?