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Thursday, 21 November 2013

20. When Something Isn't Working - Change It

It's all been a bit mundane working out this trip. While I am pleased to be going to Europe, (I was so excited when my son gave as a mother's day present two Lonely Planet books, Great Britain and Discover Ireland, (he said I know you've always wanted to go there (meaning Ireland) and a hand drawn voucher with "Exchange for return trip to London" on it; I find the planning isn't the same as my previous trips. It's different, I really enjoyed working out all the places I wanted to go (my last trip was to Viet Nam, China, Hong Kong and Macau) and trying to fit in all the places I wanted to see, shopping and changing, adding a day here, dropping a day there so it fitted within the time frame - I knew had had a certain number of nights and it took a lot of work and effort to be able to see the things I wanted to see and stay in the places I wanted to stay in. It was exciting doing all that, and then comes the part where you have to check and re-check transport times so they link up, work out travel distance and time, checking fares, cost of accommodation, cost of tours etc.

I've done this before for all my other trips, but this time wasn't the same. Something was missing. It was not exactly boring but rather like a glass of lemonade that had lost its fizz. It was flat. Yes, I'll be in London and yes, I'll get the Eurostar to Paris and yes, I'll fly to Dublin and go around Ireland but it was just frankly dull and boring. There's really very little planning involved - the only "planning" at all, was working out the Ireland bit, but even that wasn't really exciting. Perhaps because I've been to "exotic" places experienced cultures very different from my own, the sights, sounds and smells are far removed from suburban Melbourne.

On Remembrance Day this year, I started thinking about WWI and realised I'd be in a part of the world where those battles took place - I decided I'd like to see the WWI batlefields. It was quite pleasing researching that, tours, where to stay. I had to be in Paris on the 10th so had to work it all in with that. But ..... I found I was really only going through the motions. I thought right - go London to Lille, then Lille to Ypres for two nights, Amiens for two nights then on to Paris. But, it meant I had to leave London on the Sunday - I realised I didn't want to leave London on Sunday, I wanted to spend first full the weekend with family. I suddenly realised cutting down the number of nights in Paris wasn't such a big deal. When I was only going to be seeing Paris when in France, a week seemed like a good idea at the time, but if I'm going to be seeing other places, I don't need seven nights there.

And then I couldn't get the dates to gel, the two cheaper accommodation places in Ypres didn't have the dates I wanted. I went through different ways of doing it, like having three nights there and doing both the Ieper and Somme tours from Ypres and not staying in Amiens at all. I've wasted so much time on trying to get it to fit and found myself wasting so much time on it yet I wasn't really enjoying it. I toyed with the idea of going instead to Nice and the French Riviera and popping over to Monaco and Italy. That didn't last long I can tell you - after a day and a half, I knew I didn't rally want to do that. Not really interested in seeing the Riviera - it doesn't call to me or tug at the heart strings.

I think I've found something I really would enjoy and I'm currently working on it. I can do a train journey. I was looking at the Man in Seat 61 for something (forget what it was now), but found something I think would be great and I'm sure I'll enjoy it a heck of a lot more than seven nights in Paris or looking at battlefields. Don;t get me wrong, I would really enjoy seeing the battlefields, but when I weigh it up, I think I will enjoy the now, more so than the before. I could go to Italy by train from London via the Gotthard Pass through the Swiss Alps. Spend a night in Zurich and well I haven't worked the rest out yet. But I like trains and holidays and experiences aren't just about being in a place, it's all about the journey. I forgot one of the most important things - it is not the stars, or the moon, the towns or many roads you travel...the journey is the destination. This was what was missing - the journey.

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