This, my friends, is life. The harsh, raw, unplanned adventures that make you feel alive. The unforgettable tales you gain, the ones you choose to tell to your friends, parents, kids and grandkids.
The things you remember.
As I am trying to learn to be settled in one place, I live through my previous travels (yes, like an old lady!)
Here follows a recount of one of my mini-adventures through parts of Europe – Brighton- London – Paris – Malaga – Bristol – London – Brighton.
In this part, the focus will be on the traveling aspects, i.e. going from Brighton to London to Paris to Malaga. Parts about Malaga and returning to Britain may appear next.
It was March 2013, an old high-school friend visited me during Easter break. This was when I lived and studied in Brighton, England. I was then studying the first two full semesters of English courses through a Swedish university, to prepare myself for my further, my “real” studies, as I used to refer to them.
One day my tall, blonde, blue-eyed “typically Swedish looking” friend and I took the train to London. She was planning on staying, visiting another friend. I was heading to Paris that same night. It was freezing cold outside and snowing lightly, it felt more like December than March. It was more like winter on that day than it had been through the whole season. I remember my friend complaining about the weather, especially the cold, not so much the snow. Although from Sweden, she’s always easily gotten cold and had to wrap up a little bit more than the rest of us. Even I thought it was cold on that day, no wonder she was freezing her fingers off. I did feel for her, but I tried to lighten her up by being my old silly me, telling her lame jokes. Apparently it worked. As we walked through central London for the third time or so (looking for a hostel that she could stay in for the night), she exclaimed
“You are the only person this type of thing could ever be fun with“.
We spent most of our time in London – apart from freezing, hostel-hunting for her, however, without luck. She ended up going to that friend’s party in the end anyway. And I, I headed off to Paris as planned.
But still, it was quite an eventful and fun day in Britain’s Capital. I carried my heavy, top to bottom filled hand-luggage backpack, she dragged her carry-on, leaving trails in the snow. It was obvious where we had walked back and forth, although the new snow quickly covered the marks again.
I boarded the bus to Paris at 10 pm, expecting to arrive on the other side of the English Channel at around seven the next day. But when I woke up after my short nap, we were already almost there. It was not even five in the morning.
What am I to do in Paris this early on a Thursday morning? I asked myself. Will there be anything to do? Anywhere to go or when will it all open? I eventually decided to at least take the train in to central Paris, rather than walking the several kilometres without a map. I wasn’t that reckless. Not anymore.
I ended up repeating the whole previous day – I was strolling back and forth through Paris, along River Seine, still with my backpack. But here it was warm, not like it had been in London the previous day. I was not that much further south, but I could hardly keep a cardigan on. Maybe it was all the pacing back and forth that kept me warm, but I suddenly felt as if Spring was in the air, as if I had traveled thousands of miles rather than the few hundred I actually had covered.
My main purpose for stopping in Paris, on my way to Malaga, was to visit The Louvre. As I was an early arriving bird, I queued outside the art museum way before anyone else showed up. It was quite stunning and interesting watching the sun rise and the platform filling up with people.
I don’t usually like visiting museums for too long but I was amazed by all the art! I spent a good few hours in there and should have stayed a few more, but I wanted to have time for some other exploring too before heading towards the airport.
I had then just learned that Jeanette Winterson, one of my favourite authors, has spent a lot of time working in the space above the bookstore Shakespeare and Company, located opposited Notre Dame.
The small, cosy, English-language bookshop was packed with people from all over the globe. I could hardly move in there with my large backpack. Having gone in and out a few times, I eventually gave up. It was a nice atmosphere and I was happy to have seen it but it was just so tiny.
Instead of lingering around there, I set off to walk to the airport shuttle. When I started that walk, I had no clue that all of Paris’ street would be closed due to some event I fail to remember. I had to zig-zag along the streets and walk around, in a moon-shape, looping around rather than crossing through on the mainstreets.
I made it right on time to the shuttle, without food or water, only to realise, as I had gone through the security gates at the airport, that they sell no proper food.
I was exhausted and starving. I hadn’t slept more than a few hours in three days, and I hadn’t eaten in way too many hours – traveling sometimes makes me forget the basics of life.
Yet, as I arrived in Malaga late that same night, I was filled with energy the second I got off the bus and saw the beautiful palm trees alongside the main street, with a large pavement in-between the lanes.
On my way to the hostel, I was met by an early, Christian Easter celebration, and teamed up with a few other travelers who were looking for a hostel to stay in.
We joined up and found our temporary home together. Then I never saw them again. That’s the temporariness and extraordinariness of a wanderer´s life. You meet, you learn from each other, have a good time and then you part. But you never know when you’ll cross paths again, or if. That’s the beauty of it.