Ever since Tyson and I first began planning our five month journey through Europe, the day of our departure seemed to us like some mystical creature – easy to imagine, but difficult to believe in its reality. I don’t think there’s anything in this world that slows down time quite like a traveler’s anticipation for the next big adventure.
And for us, this would be the biggest yet.
Still, when the week before takeoff finally came, I was hit with a solid dose of the blues. Neither of us have ever been away from home for longer than a month; and while I may possess a wandering heart, my spirit’s a bit of a homebody. One hundred and sixty days away from family, friends, and my cat will inevitably lead to homesickness – but those one hundred and sixty days will also lead to fantastic cuisine, incredible culture, breathtaking scenery, and once-in-a-lifetime memories just waiting to be made.
May 2nd marked our departure day at last. We set off on what turned out to be 23 hours’ worth of travel through airports and airplanes (with the notable highlight of flying over Greenland, which I mistakenly assumed was Iceland at first because of all the, you know, ice) before landing in London, where we promptly got bamboozled by the tube, train, and tramway systems. Of course, we thought we could be tourist heroes. You know the type I mean – the ones who have it handled and look good handling it, too. But after boarding the fifth or sixth train that went in every direction imaginable except the right one, we ditched our sad attempt to conquer London’s public transportation and grabbed an Uber taxi the rest of the way.
Having tagged another three hours onto our total travel time, we were quite relieved to arrive at our couchsurfing destination on the evening of May 3rd. Our first couchsurfing experience was… well, it was interesting. We stayed with seven flatmates who were throwing a May the 4th party (as in, “May the 4th be With You,” get it?) that same night. Some of you may know of Tyson’s love for all things Star Wars, but after nearly 26 hours without sleep the event that began to unfold grew less and less appealing. Luckily a nice young couple took pity on us around 1:30 AM, making us a bed of cushions on the floor of their room so we could catch a few hours of shuteye as opposed to none at all.
The next morning we took the train to Brighton – without any directional mishaps, I might add – with glimpses of the lush countryside to occupy us along the way. Dropping off our 20-and-23 pound backpacks at the lovely AirBnB room we’d arranged, we made it to the seaside before the skies clouded over and took in the sights while the sunshine lasted. After lunch, we walked the bustling shop-littered lanes as well as Brighton Pier, where Tyson bought me a chocolate-covered waffle on a stick (which I found rather brilliant). We turned in somewhat early, avoiding the eventual rain, and collapsed into the gloriously real bed with gusto.
Bringing us up to speed, Tyson and I hopped on the train back to London and decided to try our hand at the bus today, so that we could take in the city above ground. When it comes to London traffic, the impression I’m left with is a mixture of white-knuckled terror and dubious awe. How the cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers all manage to coalesce without incident at every intersection seems a truly remarkable feat.
Besides the bus, we did a lot of walking. We walked so much that we didn’t really eat and we didn’t really pee, so of course by the time we found a place to do either, my stomach and bladder were about to implode and explode, respectively. We strolled through Hyde Park, sang “Royals” outside of Buckingham Palace, and crossed the London Bridge without falling down (ha… ha…) When all was said and done, an extremely windy yet satisfying day of roaming the British capital was complete.
Tomorrow, we set off to the county of Devon for our first Workaway in High Bickington. For those of you that quirked your eyebrow at that, a Workaway can be a variety of volunteer work done for hosts who generally provide food and lodging while the workawayer stays with them. We’re looking forward to having something productive to do as well as having a sort of “home-base” from which we can explore. As of this moment, Tyson and I agree that the most enjoyable part of our first few days has been the simple fact that we get to share them with one another. And now, it’s off to bed, with photos to follow soon – for as my dad would say, “Sleep is good.” Well, I’m about to one-up you, dad; because a good sleep’s even better!
From my wandering heart to yours,