Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The epic journey.

Had a lovely walk along the beach. I was
born in a seaside town and it is good to smell
the sea sometimes again.
So who else was amused by my "edible field guide to mushrooms" last week? My dearest husband pointed out it should be a field guide to edible mushrooms and not a book you can snack on while looking for mushrooms. Well at least we found a field guide to mushrooms that does tell us which ones are edible but believe it or not the book is not edible at all!

We had a long journey across Europe, as you can imagine, from Latvia to France. We set off from Latvia at six in the morning and it was a lovely drive to Poland in the rich autumn sunshine on day one of the journey, Lithuania was flat but the north east of Poland is very pretty, lots of lovely rolling hills and shimmering lakes. I spotted one hotel near a lake and thought it would make the ideal spot for a holiday one day or maybe somewhere to stop for the night on the way back, hope we can find it again. We managed to journey at a steady pace making it a very relaxing drive despite our worries of driving through countries we had never visited before. We finally arrived in a place where we were relieved that we didn't have to stop and ask directions too as there was no way that we could have pronounced the name of the town, it began with a B and had lots of z's in it. After 13 hours of driving it was exciting to be able to spot the hotel easily from the main road and so good to be able to get in and head for bed and a good long sleep, so Hotel Focus in Bydgoszcz (any clues as to its pronunciation gratefully received) gets a massive thumbs up for service, nice rooms and good breakfast, just what you need after a long drive.

Gentle decay
Day two started off well and by lunchtime we made it to Germany but oh boy what a nightmare that was. We were either driving rather fast to go with the flow, watching our fuel economy plummet or driving slowly through road works and there was plenty of those. How many road works can a country have? They also seemed to be digging up roads that the Latvians would love to have. We were still in Germany at around 7pm with three countries yet to drive through and looking increasingly unlikely that we would make it to our French hotel for the 9pm check in deadline. Sat in yet more road works though is not the place to find out that you haven't got the right number for the hotel, it is just not fun. Two phone calls to a French number only resulted in a message in French which I did not understand and so I ended up texting our son to put more credit on my phone while I phoned customer services for Eurobookings to see why I couldn't contact the hotel. Customer services quickly established the number given by them was wrong and I was given the right number, which joy of joys actually got me through to the right hotel and a very helpful guy who assured me it wasn't a problem that we were going to be late. Bleary eyed we rolled into Dunkerque at just turned midnight and not 8pm we had anticipated. The Dunkerque hotel was a cheap and cheerful, although in reality it wasn't as cheap as the Polish hotel of a much higher standard by the time breakfast was added in. The room was what I call bijou, with a pod for the shower, toilet and sink and would have been noisy if it was busy, but the staff were nice enough and it was a bed and after travelling that far that was all I was bothered about.

I love pebble pictures
We had a leisurely start to our day as the ferry terminal was only 10 minutes away and such a contrast to an airport. It was so relaxing getting through security and passport control with no huge queues, no rushing about here there and everywhere. Perfect after the exhausting drive of the day before.

One thing we did find along our journey was how important the journey is to the enjoyment of the drive. While we could drive at a steady pace and take-in the scenery the journey was a joy and part of the experience but when our focus was on the end as it was in Germany, the journey ceased to be a joy. We didn't have time to take in the richness of the country or appreciate the cultural diversity, our goal became our focus. Too often in life we hurtle towards the goal and in so doing we fail to take in the aspects of life that adds richness to our journey. It also occurred to me that the journey was quite symbolic for us as we were travelling a new way, a way we have never travelled before and it resonated with the recurring theme of mine over the last couple of years, "what got me here, won't get me there". There are going to be new ways of journeying for us but the end is not to be our focus, our "there" is important but how we get there is also important as our cross European journey shows. To hurtle towards "there" is to miss out on so much.

Small local airport
Well here I am sat on the south coast of England with Ian out at his son's stag do - a curry, and me typing away while wedding order of services are being folded. Think I had better finish and help out.

By the way, sorry there are no pictures from the journey I was too busy navigating and making sure we stayed on track to handle a camera as well. Maybe on the way back, but don't bank on it.
Would have been a little quicker in one of these

1 comment:

Cottage Smallholder said...

Hi Joanna

I've tagged you on this post on my blog http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/tagged-7033
Do hope that you'll join in!