One keyword to sum up our three months of travel would have to be BUDGET. We were both well aware of the restraints we were faced with before we left Canada and what little money we had managed to save would need to be stretched across our months of travel.
Budget is also a great way to describe how this trip was originally conceived. After hundreds of different travel ideas we finally decided on heading back to the U.K. This is because Westjet had an introductory sale for their flights between Vancouver and London, just $250CAD per person! To put things into perspective we couldn’t even get a domestic flight to Calgary for that price. So with minimal hesitation the flights were booked and three months later we were ready to depart. It didn’t matter that there were no meals or screens on the flight, for $250 I wouldn’t have cared if I had to fly the plane myself.
Arriving back into Gatwick Airport for me was actually a little terrifying. Despite the fact that London was a city I had called home only a few years earlier I was not prepared for the millions of people at the airport. What made things even more difficult is that Steve and I were both traveling with around 40 kilos of luggage each. As we joined the long line to buy tickets to get back into London it became very apparent that being on a budget in London was going to be tough. A train ticket each was going to cost us 20 quid! As luck would have it a women in the line in front of me mistakenly purchased an extra ticket which she generously gave to me, cutting our travel costs in half.
We only had four days in London which was filled with a number of free activities the bustling city has to offer. Borough markets, The Tate, Serpentine Gallery, Primrose Hill, Regents Park the list goes on. On top of this to save money we got meals from Tesco, the prices blew our minds after a year of North American supermarkets!
We were also VERY lucky to have been provided accommodation from Kirsty and Phil who so kindly gave us an air mattress on their lounge room floor in Clapham Junction. If it weren’t for their help our budget would have taken a strong battering in our first few days on the road. Kirsty and Phil also get huge props for babysitting our beastly luggage leaving us to travel Europe with just 7 kilos of carry on.
Four days after arriving we London behind to head North to Manchester. Thanks to Megabus we only had to pay a pound each to get there. Again, this was no way luxury travel at one stage I thought a brawl was going to break out between a tired chav and a Russian businessman over a reclined seat.
Although Manchester lacks the excitement that London is bursting with, I welcomed the slightly slower pace of life of the city. We checked into Hatters Hostel (the cheapest place we could find) and walked the blocks of the close by North Quarter. It was slightly heart breaking to browse shop after shop in the Afflecks complex and not being able to spend a cent. The reason behind out trip north to Manchester was to meet an old friend from Melbourne who was local to the area. Lucky for us she worked in a fashionable Asian fusion restaurant and gave us a generous discount on our meals.
Money wasn’t the only thing we were short on during our travels. Time was another restriction that we were faced with meaning each stop would be a rushed one and Manchester was no exception. Two days after arriving we were boarding budget flight number two bound for Copenhagen.