It is often the little things in life which we are taking for granted, that often make a huge difference.
Once exiting the Channel tunnel at the beginning of July, the road took me and my once again filled to the brim BMW (this time taking my mountain bike, rather than my skis with me….)
through the North of France and through Belgium to some good friends in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. As I was a bit ahead of my agreed time of arrival (which is unusual….), I just couldn’t resist to stop at one of the many excellent Italian ice cream parlours, which are a stable in most city and town centers in Germany.
Oh,……. the delight of – once again – being served a good coffee, while being allowed to sit down and then the pleasure of a “to die for” cup of hand made ice-cream…….
It was then, when I started to fully understand the story my Estonian friend and colleague Tiina Toomet told me (while we had coffee and cakes) some years ago, while sitting in the sun in a cafe on the shores of Lake Geneva:
As a teenager, as a Soviet citizen at that time, Tiina enjoyed the rare privilege of a visit to West-Berlin and was walked in a tightly controlled group over the Kurfuerstendamm – during the time of the Cold War Berlin’s main shopping street – to observe the way of life of the “decadent” West. I am not sure what exactly the idea of this exercise was, but at least with Tiina it failed spectacularly…..
Seeing people with full shopping bags interacting in a relaxed and seemingly happy way with each other wasn’t that off putting at all. The pleasure she envied the most though, was to be able to sit in a cafe and to enjoy an ice-cream in the sun !….
Good for her that she could still recall this feeling after so many years, to enjoy a simple pleasure like this now even more.
I think that it was this, that went through my head in the not more than three minutes it took me to finish off my Cup Malaga.
The next “little thing” that made a considerable difference for me and my mental wellbeing, happened the following day in Neu-Oetting (another – younger – sister of Alt-Oetting) in Bavaria: after probably four months I was finally getting a haircut !
I will spare you the photos of the result, but thankfully the hairdresser had a solid broom and a large bin in her shop.
It was followed the next day by a visit to the dentist (no photos here as well….).
Although I am usually attending the definitely best dentist in the world in the UK, she was this time not able to help me with a lost filling, as all British dental surgeries had shut down completely since the middle of March. Making good (and possibly final) use of the UK issue of my European Health Card, I got my troubling molar rebuild and received at the same time a lot of useful tips on how to handle the Bavarians by the East German locum who saw me.
The final “little thing” I was now able to enjoy as well, was admittedly not quite so little – it was in fact nearly 2000 m high!
Driving just an hour South, Silke and I reached the foothills of the Alps and the tranquil and picturesque town of Bad Reichenhall.
After supplying ourselves (unnecessarily) with food and water, we finally went on our first hiking trips this year, visiting high alpine grazing sites and small mountain huts.
Once again we were able to walk for miles without hardly meeting anyone, enjoying the blue sky and the panorama of the Northern Alps around us. What a pleasure to be able just to travel and to walk where you want, without any restrictions.
And to make things even better – following the hiking, back in the valley, we could sit down again for a coffee and an ice-cream (or may be a piece of apple struddle ?!….)