Do I look forward to returning to Europe? Yes and no. Yes, because it’s where I feel at home, where my friends and family are, and because it means I can pick up my normal life again. Except everything will be different: a new flat, a new home town, a new job. Well, to me that spells “exciting” and I can’t wait to get on with it, to settle down to my own place, create new daily routines, and have my own stuff around me.
No, because it means the end of my travels. It will be difficult settling down after sixteen months of extraordinary experiences, travelling through towns that few westerners ever do, and being, for once, the one who is exotic. Amongstthe lovely black haired people with skin the color of honey, I was the odd one out with my auburn hair and milky white skin. In Europe I won’t stand out, and no one will be interested to hear where I’m from or how I got there, which is actually both a positive and a negative. I can go about my life without being constantly questioned, or noticed. Which is also something of a relief.
It felt odd even writing this post. I mean, I was “just” going to make my way through Europe, like I have done so many times before, what is there to write about? But of course there is. I love traveling in Europe! A few hundred kilometers usually means arriving to another country, another culture, another cuisine. New sights, sounds and smells. New language, new history, new people. And on my journey home from where I get off the container ship I would have visited a few places where I haven’t been before.
So where will I go? Well, the plan was to disembark in Algeciras, which Lonely Planet calls bluntly “an ugly industrial fishing town” where no one apparently stops for long. The plan included Seville and Barcelona, but I soon started having second thoughts.
However, the weather would be vexingly hot in south of Spain that time of year (reaching 40 °C during the days), and I really can’t deal with that anymore. So bye bye Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece. Another time!After Spain, I was going to make my way back to the UK, with a few stops along the way. I need to visit my bank in Bonn, Germany, where I lived for many years, but that is not urgent.
My travel insurance will run out (again) on July 15th, so that was my uppermost limit in reaching UK.
This was to be the last scheduled post. When I wrote the first version of this post, it was still a few days until I embarked on my ship. I wrote then: “Much can happen in the month while I’m at sea, so we’ll see how well I will keep to my travel plans in Europe. Travel is unpredictable and fun that way.”
The next port after Algeciras will be Southampton and suddenly I wanted to continue all the way home. The additional few weeks of travel in Europe felt unnecessary and too much effort.
Onboard the Kerguelen I’ve been pampered and well taken care of by the lovely crew. Three delicious vegetarian meals a day, comfortable private cabin, the ever changing sea and the intriguing massive ship. To swap that for 2-3 more weeks of hostels and trains, taking care of my own meals and accommodation? No, no more. I’m going home!
So the Kerguelen will be the last leg. I will disembark in Southampton somewhere around the 20th of June. From there it will be a few hours by train to London and home.
It feels right. It feels that’s it’s time. Time to end my marvellous travels and time to go home with comfort and luxury.
And another change! In the few days since I updated this scheduled post to include my change of heart and plans to continue to Southampton, our captain approached us one evening before dinner. There was a slight change of plans: we would not make a port of call in Algeciras after all. We were going to Tangier Morocco instead! What…?! More on this later, but I was thrilled!
In container ship travel, the only thing constant is change. Happily for me, the changes were all exciting. And I was still going all the way home.
P.s. The Flickr photos reflect my original travel plan highlights. The internet on board the ship where I’m rewriting this post is not robust enough for uploading big files but I just managed to upload the Kerguelen bridge photo.