As I have had the chance to spend some time travelling around the globe, some of the biggest surprises that have crossed my path, have had to do with entering and exiting places – and how difficult such a daily thing might sometimes be. In Finland, almost every house seems to have a door and a lock that works with a similar logic: The ABLOY lock. The logic is, once you want to enter, you simply insert the key, turn it around one full round, and the lock opens. Every single lock seems to work with this logic here, and therefore, I was never prepared to encounter doors that might be on the trickier side. Consequently, I have lived some incredibly comical moments during my travels and here I am aiming to describe some of them to help you make your next trip a bit more pleasant.
When you need to remember to take the key as you leave the house
What often surprises the foreign tourists and the exchange students here in Finland, is the fact that if you exit and close the door, it is already locked. As a result, your day might get complicated if you take the trash out and leave your keys inside. Luckily, it usually only takes one call to get help, although they usually charge you around 60 euros.
Lifting the handle
This kind of door usually also has a double or even a triple lock. This means, that to open or to close it, you will have to rotate your key around multiple times.
Furthermore, with these types of locks, you will also have to lift the handle up, otherwise they won’t co-operate with you. You will just be standing there and turning your key around with zero-effect.
When trying to leave, you are suddenly left standing with the door handle in your hand
This one specific door came across in Paris, and the house in question was an old and magnificent building in the 8th arrondissement. The door in particular I recall being red, wooden door with a golden door handle. The door in question also had a double lock that needed to be lifted to lock it. So, usually in the mornings when I was rushing to the subway and locking it in hurry, I just pulled the door handle with too much effort, and it just got pulled out. No panicking needed though, since it was easy (although also a bit time-consuming) to place it back.
The doors where your key just stays stuck inside
These kinds of doors are usually at their best (or worst), when you are extremely tired and in a foreign country. The experience I have in mind also happened in Paris, in the fashionable and busy restaurant area of Marais, where my friend kindly had promised to host me in his apartment for a couple of days.
However, after my first day of work and getting lost in the subway tunnels on my way back, I attempted to open the front door of the building downstairs. At first, I didn’t manage to open the door at all and once I finally succeeded, I was suddenly confronted with another problem. The problem was that my key wouldn’t agree on leaving the lock anymore and stayed stuck on the door. As I was extremely tired, I had to call my friend and he had to descend from the 5th floor to release my key from the lock.
The other severe case of this kind happened in Romania, where I also had to call my friend because I couldn’t just leave the key stuck on the door like that. What usually helps with these kinds of cases, is turning the key to a certain kind of position, usually vertical OR diagonal, to release it. Do not worry, the next time you are trying to lock the door, the key will usually get stuck again.
This kind of a modern lock I experienced in South Korea. All you need to do is to remember the pin-code and you can easily access your apartment. When you leave or arrive, the door will play a little robot song for you to tell the lock is opening/closed.
What I have learnt from these door episodes in my life, is that different kinds of doors can teach us to see things differently. When travelling, you submerge yourself in a different culture, and sometimes the cultural differences manifest in different ways. Also, what seems to be the only possible logic for you, might seem completely random for others. Doors can teach us to think differently, which is the most important skill that you can learn from your travels abroad.