By Katie Mitchell (admin)
* This blog post is pulled and edited down from her personal blog.
Morocco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, France, England, Ireland. Just a few landing spots in the past few months.
I’m so happy to write fun stories and updates for you! Welcome! I hope you feel hugged and celebrated right now. Imagine we’re catching up over coffee, or whatever you find fun, and giggling about the wonders of life as we reminisce on our time apart. That’s what I’m doing.
TIMES I ALMOST (OR ACTUALLY DID) MISS A TRAIN, BUS, OR PLANE IN LONDON
London –> Paris
My sweet friend Franz Michael came to visit me in London after I left Morocco. We spent the week rock climbing at VauxWall, eating yummy food and doing the tourist thing. But Franz also found us cheap Eurostar tickets to spend a day in our next-door neighbor, Paris. And like the cheap tickets they were, they were seats on the first train at 6 am.
Like the naive non-Londoners that we are, we figured we would be able to easily hop on a bus to the station. WRONG. Then we thought we could take the night tube to the station. WRONG. Then we thought, hey, better just call an Uber…when neither of us had the app and only one of us (Franz) had a phone that worked without wifi. After sprinting in the direction of the station while precariously trying to download the app, Franz ordered an Uber faster than I thought possible. And let me tell you, the next ten minutes felt like something out of a fairy tale as that car pulled up and dropped us off right outside of security. We were ushered through lines and plopped in our seats within ten minutes of pulling up. My panting didn’t quit until I fell asleep and woke up in Paris.
London –> Oxford.
Everyone will tell you a different way to get to Oxford. We tried so many connecting transit options I think I could tell you every station west of London. We made friends with a gentleman at the Paddington station who clued us in to a speed train to Oxford which we promptly hopped on. We arrived in a rainy Oxford, stomped through some mud and took the same train back, two hours later. Some days are just meant to be consumed by transit.
London –> Ireland
Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit that I really didn’t understand London’s public transportation. I loved it and swear by it (now that I’m no longer using it daily), but it really screwed me over a few times. When it was time to finally leave, I planned to hop on the night tube at 3 am to catch a bus I had purchased a ticket for that would take me directly to my terminal to fly out to Ireland. Of course, the night tube was closed that evening. I had spent all of my cash the day before (big mistake) and my bank thought I was already in Ireland, so it would not let me withdraw cash to order a cab. An Uber would require me walking back to wifi and after I waited around for other possible buses, it was too late to catch my pre-ordered bus to the airport.
I forfeited the $40 flight and went back to my hostel to figure out a new plan(e). Once I returned and bought a new flight, I napped for a few hours before making a second attempt at exiting the UK. I left with four hours to spare and still was held up at two different tube stations and rerouted.
Eventually, sitting on my seat on the plane, I realized that the actual flight was only an hour-long, but the transit to actually get me onto that plane took around 12 hours.
Spain was the most unique travel experience I’ve ever had. This was a long term trip where the goal absolutely was not cultural immersion. It was to stand out as a traveler, as a pilgrim. I love being a pilgrim!!
As almost anyone who’s done a long walk or thru-hike will tell you, it is very addicting. My dear friend Alea and I embarked on the journey together and fell in love with the daily rhythm of life on the trail. Wake up at 6, walk by 6:30, get some breakfast in a town and eat lunch once you arrive at the destination town by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Take a shower followed by a nap and then meet up with all of your new friends to swap stories and hunt down the best dinner spot in town. Usually, this dinner would be a 10 euro menu that fed us three courses and a bottle of red wine. Not too shabby.
After 32 days of walking, we reached Santiago. After 36 days of walking, we arrived Muxia, the first time we saw the ocean after walking from France. And on day 37, we ended in Fisterra, the ‘end of the world.’
So after attempting and failing, and then succeeding at traveling by bus, car, train, plane and even by foot, I always got where I needed to be.