For all the years I lived in Cape Town whenever I would fly home or go on a trip I wrote an airport post for my old blog. Something about being at the airport always got me musing about moving from one place to another and life in general. And really what else is one to do than ramble and drink a couple of gin tonics while wait for a flight to board? Please don’t judge, while I certainly never wrote a masterpiece at the airport, gin tonics are perfectly legitimate drinks at any hour! I would also write on the plane, but usually no more than a snarky commentary on a Gossip Girl re-run, which I sort of hate to love, not sure that counts.
But if I had time to write and drink it also meant that I was having one of the better travel days. A better travel day consisting of actually having gotten to the airport on time with all documents in order. Not a given. Though I have forgotten my passport at home only once, the amount of times when traffic jams miraculously form before my eyes and have me cut it really close must be unsurpassed. My alarm and I are also not friends when it comes to traveling. The worst was definitely falling asleep after a party in the wee hours of the morning only to be woken up an hour later by a car driver who was picking me and eight trunks up to fly to L.A. for a job. While I can blame the trunks for not making it on the plane, I cannot blame them for having the most excrutiating flight (they put me on the next one out) ever – that was all me and the Mojitos. Less self-induced but more embarrassing was being woken up by the concierge on one of my first ever press trips in Dubai a few months ago. While I had remembered to order breakfast packs for the whole team, I had forgotten to set my alarm. I got mean looks from all the real journalists, so my new twitter bio may as well read: giving travel bloggers and iPhone users a bad name since 2013.
Having said all of this, here I am. And writing on my way to Cape Town it is a good travel day. I have managed not only to set my alarm, pack my passport and sunblock which I bought during last week’s snowstorm, but also gotten all my Mitbringsel. In case you don’t speak German a Mitbringsel is usually a small souvenir that you either take from a trip home as a gift or something you bring with when you visit somewhere.
I learned from my Dad that Mitbringsel were something to take serious when I was little. From each trip he would bring me a little something: a snow globe or a ceramic tile. While I wouldn’t count a ceramic tile as amongst child appropriate Mitbringsel, the thought did count. And once I was old enough I would make more specific requests like the time he went to Italy and I asked him to get me an Armani Exchange t-shirt. Unfortunately while I knew the name Armani, I didn’t know yet that Prada makes much better Mitbringsel & Co.
When I first moved to South Africa I didn’t really know my family there. While I consider my uncle now my second father, back then he was a whole unknown entity to me and all I did know was that he was a fan of whiskey. I didn’t however know if he was a true connoisseur (he is) or if he would drink anything in a bottle (he does), but I wanted to be safe and get him something nice which wouldn’t break my bank. So I approached an older gentleman at the Heathrow duty free shop and asked him if he knew about whiskey and could help me. Luckily he gave me the answer I needed and that he knew about two things: whiskey and women. I don’t remember what I ended up buying under his guidance, but I remember that it was well received.
I have since learned that you can buy great whiskey just as easily in Cape Town so this time Bumble & Bumble shampoo and an array of other things and brands that one either pays a fortune for or cannot get in South Africa are on my list. Like Bohnenkraut or Gallseife. Don’t ask where these requests even come from, but I am all for getting Mitbringsel that people actually want even if it means I need to embarrass myself in front of the shop assistant by asking where I can find a Playboy deodorant.
However I have learned that the best gift as a German is always Gummibärchen. They don’t taste the same in other countries (tried and proven many times!). With five kids I make sure to get my cousin her very own bags of regular Gummibärchen, because she doesn’t need any deviations as she calls all the other options and of course sharing with five kids is no fun either. For them there is a colorful mix of other shapes that got my suitcase up to a grand total of 20kg.
Upon return I plan on filling the empty hole in my luggage with Compral, dried mango, and pink champagne. I will get my favorite solid fragrance from Frazer Perfum, linen spray from Enmasse, and stock up on jeans from Country Road. As you can see Mitbringsel go both ways and it seems there are always more green Gummibärchen on the other side of the fence.