And so it ends. After 127 days, it’s time to go home. England agrees, it seems. In the precursor to Storm Diana, it’s absolutely bucketing down, rendering visibility down to a few metres.
Squiz is most disapproving.
In our sixth year, it’s been an interesting trip. Across that time, we’ve spent a total of nineteen months on the road. We’ve travelled extensively through England Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern Spain. This year we revisited a few favourites and added Austria, Slovenia and Croatia to the list.
We’ve ventured further east than we’ve been before and stayed away longer, a total of four months this time. Also a first, was traveling in European autumn vs summer, treating us to an endless, glorious, kaleidoscope of colour.
Most poignantly for me, we also spent a little time in Bosnia Herzegovina, my and my parents’ birthplace. The time spent in what was the former Yugoslavia opened my eyes not only to the beauty my parents left behind on their immigration to Australia, but also the dreadful cost of the 1990s war. The lowest point was stepping outside in a remote section of Bosnia, to help Chris reverse, to find what I’m pretty sure was a human jaw bone, complete with teeth, emerging from the ground. Confronting doesn’t begin to cover it.
There were many highs of course. Ljubljana
Lake Bled , Dubrovnik
and Split were absolutely magical, but nothing moved me more than seeing my lovely Uncle Stipe in Rijeka.
I wouldn’t have missed seeing him for anything. Seeing Stipe is as close as I’ll ever be to seeing my beloved father again. My only regret is that I’ll never get to tell Buc about it. He would have been thrilled.
We make it to London safely by late afternoon, thanks to Chris’s excellent driving in truly dreadful conditions. We saw an accident where a car had spun off the road into an embankment and another, where someone had lost a tyre, possibly from extreme braking, its remnants still smoking across the road. No idea what happened there.
We’re both ready for a break from each other. The motorhome works well for travel. It works less well filled with four suitcases, a series of packing crates and two tired people.
It’s its only drawback really – if you need a bit of space, you can’t really get away from each other. Hopefully a restful night at the Hyatt pre flight will still frayed nerves somewhat.
We’ve not yet managed to be still on these trips. We’re still very much in travel, rather than holiday, mode. There’s always the next place to see, that keeps us moving. I’m not complaining, mind, it just takes its toll after a while.
As we prepare to go down for dinner, and as I always do at the end of each trip, I like to reflect on what I’ve learnt from our journey. It’s a mixed bag this year. I’ve learnt that when push comes to shove, there’s nothing like family. Love them or hate them, they’re the ties that bind. I’ve been reminded, painfully, that if you love someone, you should tell them, often, lest one day you no longer can. I’ve had my breath taken away by beauty of our natural world, the history that humanity has woven over our planet and I’ve lost heart at the devastation and destruction we leave in our wake. I’ve squealed with joy at spotting squirrels, deer, most wildlife really, and I’ve cried quite a few tears in sadness, anger and frustration. I’ve not yet learnt to temper my reaction to life, but you know what? I’ve learnt I no longer want to. I’ve learnt you can’t fight your nature. I believe you live a truer life by embracing your true nature. I’ve learnt to want and ask, for more – that travel bug, its bite is deep.
It’s a brave new world I’m traveling home to: I resigned from my job before this trip. It will be interested to see where the future takes me, but if my December calendar is any guide, I’m going to be busy.
I’m looking forward to going home. It took me a while to get there, but I’m finally ready. And it’s in this spirit that I’ll board the flight tomorrow.
Until next time, thank you for coming along for the ride. Thank you for reading, for your feedback and your good humour. But most of all, thank you for your company.
Until next time, dear readers and fellow travelers, Chris, Squiz and I bid you a fond adieu.