Pardon The Hobbit homage
Our train went from Paris and across the English Channel to somewhere on the East side of London, the city that was our original destination entering Europe–deja vu which now felt like a baby step compared to everywhere else we had been. We jumped on the Tube to the west side of the city, by now experts at rail systems, and walked a short distance to our hostel, which was an oversized dormitory. We shared a room with two Spanish speaking girls, who I’m fairly certain were talking about us given my expertise as a severely average Spanish student throughout high school. We wandered around the streets in no rush, grabbed some drinks at a conveience store, and took it easy at the hostel the rest of the evening. And in the morning we hopped back on the Tube to Heathrow airport, and with some spare time ate a nice breakfast at one of the airport restaraunts once checked in.
The flight back was easy, and we landed in Chicago early afternoon where Jacob’s parents picked us up. Chicago traffic was a nightmare, and it took a few hours to get back. It was nice seeing home again after what was only 45 days but what seemed like much longer. I thought I had conqueored jet lag until it hit me like a train at my Fourth of July Party the following day at 9PM.
It has been nearly 7 months to the day since this last day of travel happened. It seems silly to still be writing about it all. But as I detailed in a previous post I finished a few weeks ago, not finishing up the a chronicle of the details of the trip had been eating at me since I got back. I had worked hard on my travel entries and wanted to see it out, not so much for other people as for myself to look back on. My travels in Europe were without a doubt the best experience I have ever had. The fact that I still want to write about it should be a good indication of that.
It was nice to have a good traveling companion like Jacob, which opened up possibilities that on my own would have been more stressful and less likely.
My love of history, geography, and politics amplified the experience for me. Traveling abroad is freedom and independence, pure bliss and an invigoration of the human spirit observed by new culture and sights. I absorbed everything to the fullest.
8,089 miles by airplane. 3,636.5 by rail, ferry, and bus, for a grand total of roughly 11,725.5 miles traveled by transit. In walking and hiking distances, I easily managed 50-60 miles given the sheer distances of cities and landscapes we constantly were traversing–probably more. Mom said I looked skinny coming home.
I want to thank both of my parents, my Great Uncle Jerry, my Grandpa Tom, and Grandma Gerry for their support in this adventure, without whom I would never have been able to lift off out of Chicago in the first place. It was a privilege I did not take for granted.
UW Eau Claire deserves a shout out as well, for hosting such a great program for its students and providing support.
And of course Rachel, who was my rock at home. She was always there to hear about my travels and appreciate everything I was doing. She is currently in France for the semester doing the same. I hope your adventure is as eye opening as mine was ma cherie. Find some good vacation spots for us 😉