Traveling the world is something that I never thought I would be able to do. Well, not on the income of a radio broadcaster based in regional New Zealand. But after packing my bags two years ago I guess that goal I had only ever once dreamed about has now become a reality.
For the past seven weeks I have been on 14 flights to various locations around Europe. First stop was Spain as mentioned in a previous post. Next it was on to Malta, a small island which although was in the Mediterranean, felt like it was in the Middle East. The ancient buildings, the dry dusty climate and the sandy beaches made me feel that this would be the ideal holiday destination, however the tacky British tourists did have a some what detrimental on my time on the island. Despite this we did manage to escape the slow moving crowds and see some amazing sites, the ancient buildings of Gozo, the Madonna ta’ Fatima (which had piss in the holy water – lesson learnt) and Peters Pool with it’s crystal clear waters. Malta was really a place to relax and unwind after two hectic years of London life, but it was difficult to adjust to such a slow pace of life. After one week I was ready for the hustle and bustle of city life and boarded my next flight to Paris.
We had just three days so there was a lot to cram in and I did have a lot of boxes to tick. My previous trip to this romantic city was brief; I only really saw the Eifel Tower and spent a day at Euro Disney (which I would only recommend to any one who likes screaming children). So in three days I revisited the Eifel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, lit a candle inside Notre Dam, saw the Mona Lisa smile, climbed the steps to the Sacre Coeur, went to a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition and visited the grave of Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise. Even writing it all down now I can recall the feelings of exhaustion so I was glad (yet a little nervous) to head North West alone to a small town called Reims for three days.
Reims is a place I knew basically nothing about. I chose it as I need to kill three days in before my next adventure and this seemed to be the cheapest option. Upon my arrival I went in search of something to eat. The main street was dead and the shops all were closed, there was nothing. The only area which seemed to be thriving was the main square which surrounded Reims Catherdral, Notre Dam. Whilst it was spectacular, I had had quite enough of tourists so retreated back to my accommodation and had dinner from the vending machine in the lobby. The next day I got up and strolled the streets where the shops were now open. There was very little to see and after just two hours I felt I had exhausted what this town had to offer so again headed back to my temporary home on the outskirts of the city and spent some time catching up with friends via Skype, this just seem to enhance the pain of leaving London and the ones I left behind so I had to switch off and resort to the entertainment of Youtube for my final day.
My next destination was Greece, which after studying classics history at high school I was extremely excited to see. I arrived at Athens Airport where I awaited the arrival of a close friend from London before we tried to navigate our way through the train system. As the characters in the Greek alphabet do not resemble English we soon gave up and resorted to a taxi driver who informed us that we may not get into the city due to protests taking place (welcome to Athens). We finally arrived at our accommodation to be greeted by my very jet lagged parents who were determined to beat exhaustion and share a beverage with us on the roof top which over looked the Acropolis. The next few days seemed like déjà vu, intensive site seeing followed by relaxing in the Greek Islands. It seems my travel so far was planned in the form of busy city, quiet town, awful tourists, silent beaches.
The first Island on the agenda was by far my favorite, Mykonos. It’s one of those places that your really have to see to believe and that no photo will do justice. The white buildings line the bays of clear turquoise water and the sunsets are indescribable. Our days in Mykonos were spent by the beach or by the pool, working on the base coat of tan which I had acquired over the past few weeks. We ate delicious meals (thanks mum and dad) and drank too much Mythos.
Our next two Islands were lovely, but didn’t really live up to that of Mykonos. Paros, was dead, there didn’t seem to be a single tourist on the island which was a nice change but at the same time rather scary, I guess it was the off season. One day we hired a car a drove to a small town which my mother was informed ‘we must visit.’ Unfortunately she is not so good at reading maps so ending up getting one of the worst coffees I have ever tasted in a village that seemed to only have a church and a preschool. Our final Greek Island was Santorini, again this was very beautiful but much like Paros, was dead. As the temperature was now dropping below 20 degrees the winds were blowing a gale there was no chance any of us would be heading to the beach.
My final stop in Europe was Berlin. This was a last minute decision on account of my close friend Megan being denied entry back into the U.K so would be my opportunity to say goodbye before travelling back to Australasia. I had already spent a week in the city last year so really just planned on spending some time with my good friend and reflecting on the amazing times we have had over the past two years living in London.
I felt numb as I arrived at Tegal Airport on my final day in Europe. This was it. The Dream was over. The beautiful people I had spent my days and nights with over the past two years would continue the London dream without me. I was devastated when the plane took off and rested my head on the tray table trying to think positively about the next chapter of my live.
I would give anything to be able to go back to London and never leave, unfortunately I do not have the Visa for it.
There is one silver lining however – I got a ticket to Glastonbury!