When Ricky and I started planning this trip, we thought we knew what we were going to do. First, we were going to buy motorcycles and ride from Texas to Pategonia. Then, we realized Central and South America were not the safest areas at the moment, what with economic crises, political turmoil, and drug violence.
So instead, we decided to buy a jeep in South Africa and drive all the way north. We quickly saw that this trip would have to be postponed for when we had oodles of money lying around for import and export taxes on a vehicle.
So, we came up with the idea of getting to Australia. It's not that hard to get to Australia, though, so we had to add a challenge. We decided to do it without flying.
See, Ricky and I are slow travelers. We arrange our trips so that we have all the time in the world and we're only regulated by budget. So, traveling across the globe slowly and cheaply is right up our alley, and that meant we had to cut out the travel cheats (aka, airplanes).
We will admit, we cheated once. We flew from Houston to New York, where we would begin our trip. This was mostly due to logistics and finances. We considered taking a bus, but that would take over 2 days and was more expensive than flying. We decided we didn't want to begin our journey tired and grumpy. However, since New York was our starting point, we don't really feel all that guilty for flying to get there.
From there on out, though, no planes. We even took a transatlantic cruise to England to avoid flying.
We've already come across instances where it would be cheaper and faster to fly, but we've passed those opportunities up. In actuality, it's been nice avoiding airports. We've not had to worry about packing liquids or the weights of our bags, or whether they can be brought as a carry-on or not. Instead, we throw our stuff in the belly of a bus and enjoy some free wifi and a nap for a few hours until we reach our destination.
There are definitely ups and downs to this method, and I'm sure we'll discover more as we go along. So far, it's been nice to arrive in a city fairly close to our hostel instead of having to trek through an airport and baggage claim, and then hop in an expensive taxi or a long subway to get to the center of town. We've been able to just keep going without feeling like the journey to our accommodation has taken half the day.
On the other hand, buses take a long time. A really long time. We've taken a bus from London to Ireland, then from Ireland back to London, and from London to Paris. Those are very long rides and hopefully we'll master the art of sleeping well in cramped quarters. We'll definitely be hanging out in buses a lot in the next few months.
It may seem like we're torturing ourselves for nothing, but really there's a charm to riding on ground transportation. You really feel like you're going somewhere. In a plane, there are a few seconds of loud noise and shaking, a couple snacks, and then you magically appear at your destination. On a bus or train, though, you feel the earth under you. You see it whiz by in the windows. You see the change in landscapes and weather and you KNOW that you are traveling.
And for us, "traveling" is more than just being in one city and then another and then another. It's the act of getting there. It's the movement. It's feeling connected to the journey rather than stopping in every once in a while.
So for as long and as far as we can, we are not going to fly. That's just the way we like it.
We left on our trip about a month ago, on July 1st. We had just landed in New York, a first for both of us. We stayed with a friend and had a great time seeing the city.
It didn't really feel like we had started traveling. It's hard to say why. Maybe because we were with a friend? Because we hadn't left the country? Because we weren't roughing it?
Oh well, we thought, our next leg will be something new and exciting and once we leave the US it will feel real!
So we boarded our cruise and enjoyed a week of dirty martinis and 3 course meals and masquerade balls and lectures from astronauts and Broadway producers. We could hardly call ourselves backpackers at that point either, right?
So we didn't. We couldn't claim that we had begun our trip quite yet. It didn't seem fair, not when we were doing pub trivia quizzes with elderly doctors and snacking on smoked salmon.
It's alright, we said, we'll get to England and then head to Ireland where we'll go see parts of the country that neither of us have seen! It'll finally be something new and interesting!
We arrived in Ireland and went to Ricky's childhood home where instead of dropping off a few things and heading out to tour the country, we stayed and did yard work, helped around the house a bit, brought home the turf, and drank wine with aunts and uncles in the evenings.
|And playing fetch with the dogs somewhere in between.|
|It was lovely, though.|
|With a ridiculous amount of ruins for one place.|
After nearly 3 weeks of staying at "home" in Ireland we have begun our real trip. We've left both of our home countries and begun riding buses, staying in 20 person dorm rooms, and familiarizing ourselves with local transit.
For the bulk of our time in Europe we'll be staying with friends or family, in homes, with home cooked meals. We'll be visiting cities that are new to me but that are old-hat to Ricky. We'll be eating foods that are somewhat familiar (why do the English serve chips with EVERYTHING!?) and getting away with the languages that we speak. We'll be using a phone with free roaming and lots of data so we don't get lost.
So when does our journey actually begin? When do we start the adventure, the not-knowing, the mystery that travel brings? When will we be ok walking around with just a paper map, using nothing but gestures to find a place to eat?
I'm not sure when I'll feel like we're actually traveling, but for now I'll try to enjoy the weird and wonderful that happens daily, try to find something interesting that makes this place, wherever it is, different from every other place.
I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of what I’m about to say, but I believe honesty is the best policy. So here goes:
I have spent most of my life with a bitter hatred towards the United States.
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