real life

"The most unlikely trip of my life."

Adam and his dad.

By ADAM ROZENBACHS

I recently toured Europe with my dad. I don’t recommend it. I mean, go with your dad, sure… just don’t go with mine.

My dad was born in Germany, and had always wanted to visit his homeland, so I decided I’d accompany him as repayment for everything he had done for me growing up – cricket every Saturday; helping me with my paper round when it was raining; making my maths teacher ‘disappear’ when I was given a D+.

Of course, I was initially hesitant about the trip, especially about spending so much of my inheritance. But then I had visions of nostalgia, and a strengthened bond between the two of us. Maybe even shedding a tear at discovering my ancestry. Unfortunately all it did was remind me why I always travel solo.

Happily, I made it back, with most of my sanity intact. I won’t say all, because that would be a lie. If I had to measure my current level of saneness, I’d say I’m not quite ‘vote for Bob Katter’, but I would happily sell you a three seater couch AND recliner for only $29.

Being dad’s first long haul flight I knew the plane’s entertainment system was going to be a struggle. He’s not good with technology; in fact, he still pays for things with cheques, a fact I can’t comprehend.

I recently got paid by cheque and could only think, “Alright, party time… in three to five business days.”

And it’s fine to be a technophobe, but the worst kind is a stubborn one. Unsurprisingly he didn’t ask for assistance when the film I had set up for him ran out while I was sleeping. So as we’re nearing the end of our first leg into Dubai, I woke to find him listening to the Koran… in Arabic (I haven’t lived at home for some time, but I am positive I’d have noticed a conversion to Islam).

Unfortunately, my dad is hard to impress. Like many of his generation he just gets on with business without fuss or fanfare – which, as I discovered as we hopped around Europe, includes travel.

“Thought it’d be bigger.”

When we got to the Eiffel Tower, dad just looked up and said, “Thought it’d be bigger.”

I’m still waiting for an apology from the French government.

He was disappointed the London Eye wasn’t in a park [obviously the Thames was blocking his view] and Big Ben was not what he expected [too much Ben, not enough Big].

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I hoped the history of a 700-year-old church in Munich might finally have sparked his interest. It had thousands of ornate carvings, a lifetime of work for some poor medieval craftsman. So when we were standing there, looking around, I thought, “finally, he’s impressed!”

Dad’s response: “I wonder who cleans all this?”

And his inane, yet genuine, questions were not confined to churches. Walking the streets of Berlin, dad asked, “What night is bin night?”

Our road trip through Germany was always going to be interesting. For you see, my father is one of those people who live by the theory that if they’re not making noise, they don’t exist.

So before the journey began, I had to lay down the law: “You have to be quiet. No whistling, no drumming, no singing of songs that have never actually been songs. This is hard for me; we’re on the wrong side of the road, it’s a manual car, and you’re in it.”

So we drove the six hours from Munich to Berlin, both of us relaxing once we’d settled on the Autobahn. But the downside to our comfort was dad reading every roadside sign.

“Now that we’re back, and time has softened the annoyances, we have great stories to bond over.”

I’m certain you have no idea how many roadside signs, on a six-hour drive to Berlin, say Berlin. But the answer is “a lot.” When I got home I Googled “how many signs say Berlin on the way to Berlin” and there was just one result: “a lot.”

But probably dad’s most annoying trait is that he counts stairs. And if you’ve ever been to Europe, you know they’re everywhere, like Tom Waterhouse. And as we neared the end of the trip he lamented that he hadn’t counted all the stairs we’d been up since our journey began. As you can imagine, I did not.

The upside is now that we’re back, and time has softened the annoyances, we have great stories to bond over. The Camembert ice-cream we ate at a five star restaurant in Caen in Northern France. The torrential rain we endured in Munich. The swim across the Thames to escape paying a cab fare. Good times.

But my favourite moment was when we touched down in Melbourne, after 21 days and a 24-hour flight together, and dad asked me if I was going to stay at his and mum’s place for the night.

I live 10 minutes away.

Thanks Tommy, but I’ll see you at Christmas… 2018.

Adam Rozenbachs is a comedian. He’s currently starring in brand new stand up show, Eurodad, which he is performing at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 28th March- 21st April.

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