In this journal…
a confused me;
introduction to another adventure.
Here we go again…
Remember the first post I made on this strange thing called “interwebz”? Me neither. I vaguely recall it was a long, long series called EuroHop15/16, and I managed to crank out 10000 words during the entire series for my 2 readers. At that time, I thought it was the most magnificent achievement I had ever accomplished in my life, barring Incident SCP7α9-K when I managed to eat 2 happy meals from McDonalds in one single sitting. Due to the large amount of pictures, at that time, I was advised to separate it into 3 different posts so that it would not be too difficult to load. Now, look at me, the latest posts about Voyager series typically have 10000 words each! That tells you two things about me: I have grown to become more mature and introspective, and also I am really bad at taking advices.
So this time, for the 5th year in a row, I began my annual EuroHop trip again in the freezing cold. I have learned so much and grown even more during the past few years on the road, so it is time to pay a visit to all those dear people who helped me at their homes. I will detail this trip in 7 parts, and here you have a neat directory.
Take me to…
Pt.8: Condor Business Class Review (in construction)
About the trip
I just wanted to slow down my travels. Ever since 2016, the trips were starting to get out of hand. They got longer, more complicated, more intense, and most importantly, lonelier. Look at Voyage South, that was 3 months of insanity across four countries and Antarctica; you also have Round’aWorld 2017 which included me flying in economy from Mexico City to Amsterdam for 5 hours, and then back; the most recent trip of Voyagers carried me enough distance to almost reach the moon! I am tired, man, not tired of traveling, but traveling alone. So this series is the only thing I know I will go out of my way to see my friends, even though some consider me a barely-known acquaintance. I had to do this, if not for others, for my own sake. On December 2, 2018, I flew with Westjet to London via Toronto on a ticket costing less than a flight to Los Angeles, and then spent a few days in Cardiff with Emily and Luke I met from Australia 2016.
After returning to London for a few days, I headed off to Lisbon where the weather was significantly better, and had a nice few days in the quaint fishing village of Sesimbra with Beatriz I met during Voyager 3 in Seoul.
After bidding the welcoming Portuguese family goodbye, I arrived in Malmö, where dear Anna featured in the OG EuroHop 3 years ago lives. Sadly, she no longer works in IKEA, but the big hug feels the same. Across the bay in Copenhagen, I paid Kate a visit, who I met during Voyager 1 in the frozen Finnish lapland. She had an extra bike, so of course I had to do what the Romans do and endanger the traffic in this frigid city.
It was almost Christmas, so why not go to my dear friend Anna (no, the other dear Anna, yes, the one I mentioned in Voyager 1.5) in Lyon? Nothing can beat a good French Christmas with an authentically stubborn French family, right? Right? A week in the slightly misty French countryside was easily a highlight of my life.
After an incredible Christmas season in the warm family that I always wished to have, it was unfortunately time to spend some days alone in the German city of Düsseldorf, where large Christmas markets and incredible Rhine River views kept me busy from being sad. Then a train ride took me to another German city that I had never been: Hamburg, where Jirina from Australia 2016 was waiting for me as we blasted off to 2019. Fireworks, strange yet delicious food, and miniature airports packed my schedule.
Finally, a hectic flight and an even hectier train ride later, I arrived at Kelly’s house in Vlissingen, Netherlands, or as the Brits who used to own this place called it: Flushing. Kelly and I met in Shanghai as a random encounter, and it amazes me how much having a good friend can do to one person. The oceanside town was barely occupied in winter, and we saw the ingenuity of the Dutch people on the numerous ocean dams.
Finally, last hop to Brugge across the border, and I headed back to Brussels for my usual local Pinar to check up on her life. Ever since our little chat in Round’aWorld 2016, I had not seen her for what seemed like forever. However, just like last time, we had only 1 day of fun before I headed to Cologne to check up on Pauline met during Australia 2016 and Ulrike during Antarctica in 2016. I covered both of them during my last year’s C.A.T. as well, so go check up on them in 2017 before reading this part!
Finally, I flew back from Frankfurt airport back to Shanghai via Kuala Lumpur on Condor business class, and I have a full review as well as the epilogue to end this great nostalgia trip down memory lane. I sincerely hope all of you enjoy this read, and let us embark on another beautiful journey in Europe, with some human beings that are the dearest to my heart.
December 2, 2018, I packed up my bag (yes only one single backpack), and headed towards Vancouver airport. Otherwise a rather unremarkable day was made extraordinary because of this momentous event: I was heading for a trip after an almost-half-a-year hiatus. I hopped a bit between China US, and Canada, yes, but finally I was back on the road! I almost jumped onto the 737 taking me towards Toronto. Off we go!
Westjet has a rather mediocre economy product. Barring the relatively middle-of-the-pack seat width and pitch, this Canadian flagship transcon route had only minimal drink service for free. No entertainment on board also contributed to the scent of boredom flowing in the aisles. We departed just as the sun rose and arrived shortly after sundown. From Toronto, it was another 7 hours to London, on one of the few widebody jets Westjet had. Again, minimal service, crowded plane, and service so extremely unremarkable that I am remarking it right here. Good thing about the lack of entertainment options is that when the lights are off, it was actually pitch-black in the cabin for a good night’s sleep.
I landed at Gatwick Airport just as December 3rd began on the European continent. The golden yet mellow sun barely pierced through the thick grey ocean mist typical to the island nation, as the Gatwick express slowly moved across the English countryside. In other trips’ introductions, I would tell you that I was anxious, or hopeful, or excited, but truth to be told: I couldn’t feel anything any more. So many trips later, I was numbed by the experience of beginning a new one, or more precisely, another new one, so much so that the only thing floating through my head was how can I save the most money on this trip. I guess this is one of the downsides of living on the road: I am now an experienced vagabond, just living another day far from stability and safety. It is just another on the path, the sweet ol’path.