My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A 'holiday' on The Continent

As I write this I can hardly believe the last few days have been and gone. Ever since my Mum suggested that she and my sister took a holiday and came to visit me, I have been excited about the prospect of being with 2/4 of my family and most of all people I know and love. They took trains through Scotland, England, France and Italy to meet me and together we explored what Genoa had to offer at Easter.

We wandered (no mooching allowed!) around and found some markets, including a lovely Farmer's Market with delicious local produce - most notably Pesto Genovese - the original pesto, fresh, bright green and yummy. It was nice just to wander the old, narrow streets and babble about my travels, hear their news and stop for the odd ciocolatta. We popped into a few elaborate Catholic churches - I always love the echoey and still sound and calm in these great churches, if not the decadence. We decided not to join the mile-long queue for the aquarium but were happy to stand in awe of the wooden pirate ship and be glad my vessel was sturdier. There wasn't much else to do except weary our feet walking and eating and savouring the culinary delights of Italy. Many places were closed for Easter so it was hard to find anywhere but we 'lucked' upon a nice outdoor cafe for pasta Genovese (pesto) and seasonal spring lamb and cheesecake.

The next day we decided to get the scenic funiculaire to Casella. We found our way along with lots of others with the same idea to the little station and hopped on. The one hour journey took us up and out of Genoa and through some beautiful countryside, three valleys of lovely scenery, little villages and signs of spring (and summer too- I think the nature in Italy is confused- climate change perchance?) Wood anemones (we think) and elderflowers. At the end of the line there wasn't actually that much to do but join the throng and buy an icecream. So we assented and tried to ignore the proud list of E numbers displayed. In the evening more eating with slightly less success but still tasty, local seafood. I even managed to eat some 'Good Fish Guide' recommended clams! Feeling fat as anything we rolled home to sleep.

Day 3 and we were ready to move on , next stop Milan, where we met up with some friends from when we lived in Italy. More eating on the agenda! as we savoured delicious risotto Milanese and other local fare with Gian Carlo and fresh and seasonal (in Italy anyway) asparagus and gnocchi with Penelope and Gabriele. Thanks to everyone for lovely meals and for coming at such short notice! We had a brief break in between to look at the magnificent Duomo and Central Station. Then it was time for the night train to Paris. Italy is such a fantastic country for 'local food'. They are rightly proud of their culinary delights and local specialities, using fresh ingredients and seasonal produce- why can't more countrys follow suit?

On the delayed night train we were lucky to only get one other person in our 6 berth cabin and none of the lovely teenage school kids. Compared to some of my recent train experiences it was not the best. The beds were tiny and I can't imagine how squashed it would be with 6 people- well except from tales from Mum and Penelope's experience on the way down. Cosy is the polite word for it. Either way it was a popular choice with few seats spare. Nothing much happened, we slept and chatted to our room mate and her ultimate frisbee friends and soon were arriving in Paris. After more local specialities, Gauffres Chantilly and Chocolat Chaud for brekky (well I am in continental Europe now!) it was sadly time to say goodbye again. I felt pretty emotional as I realised I would be alone again, our time had been too short and it had been quite tiring for everyone. I don't know how people do these 'mini breaks' I can't believe they are relaxing. So Mum and P safely back on Eurostar I pull myself together and get practising my French. I get a crepe au fromage, sit on the steps to the Sacre Coeur in the sunshine and look down and Paris and listen to lots of lovely buskers play.

My Paris experience was fun and consisted of tourist wanderings, watching lots of street theatre and buskers, a trip to the Louvre and of course Mona Lisa (pretty small in real life!) eating lots of cheese and the most expensive beer of my trip so far. I chatted to some locals for hours on the steps to the Sacre Coeur, my new home, and tried to sort out bicycle stuff with shops in Paris and at home. Thanks to the guys at CAT and also the lovely Jonathan and co at the Holy Trail cycle shop in Machynlleth, I will soon have a bicycle in Paris and am set to cycle through the Champagne region and see what slow travel is really all about! I can't wait.

3 Comments:

At 10:46 p.m., April 20, 2007, Blogger Karo said...

Hey Babs,

I'm very intrigued in finding out how you made this trip from the UK to Oz, because I'm planning on doing the same! My friend referred me to your blog when I told him of my plans. Alas I don't have the time now to read through all your posts... but since you obviously have a vast amount of experience, could you tell me how long it took, how much money you spent, what route(s) you'd recommend taking, etc etc?

 
At 10:50 p.m., April 20, 2007, Blogger Karo said...

Hey Babs,

I'm very intrigued in finding out how you made this trip from the UK to Oz, because I'm planning on doing the same! I too want to do everything I can to reduce my carbon emissions and have promised myself to try my hardest to avoid flying (which will make trips home to Finland considerably more interesting too!hehe!)

My friend referred me to your blog when I told him of my plans to travel to australia overland as far as possible. Alas I don't have the time now to read through all your posts... but since you obviously have a vast amount of experience, could you tell me how long it took, how much money you spent, what route(s) you'd recommend taking, etc etc? any other tips?? i'd GREATLY appreciate it!!!!

hmmm how do i tell you my email address without publishing it on the blog? are there private messages on this thing? hmmmm...

xxxx

 
At 9:09 a.m., April 27, 2007, Blogger Babs said...

Karo and anyone else interested in how to do it!
You can leave your email on here and I won't publish it, so do that. I cannot reply any more definitely than this for now as I am still travelling and cycling home at the moment and access to internet is limited to when I see kind friends and family as I am skint! On the blog the most useful bits to read about the cost, carbon calculations, who to get tickets off etc. are January 2007 - Bees, Bushfires etc and in August 2006, so go to the archives and check those out first.

As a summary though it took me approx. 7 weeks to get to Brisbane, cost just over £2000 (including all costs, visas, tickets, food, accommodation and some touristy stuff.) I have taken a different route out and back but recommend the route out most it was so much fun, logistically a bit hard with so many countries and visas but worth it. The route is written on here or on many other news websites if you type it into google!!madly enough!
Try to take as little as possible! and think about other environmental issues as you go around such as trying not to use air con rooms, especially on your own (not so bad if you are sharing) think about the food you buy, where it comes from, how much waste you are producing etc.
Sorry it is brief, if you want to contact me again then do but I might not reply for a month!
Good luck.

 

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